Let’s Tune In To The EU’s Periphery: Donald Tusk To Fortify Nation Against Illegal Immigration

Let’s Tune In To The EU’s Periphery: Donald Tusk To Fortify Nation Against Illegal Immigration

Nicholas Zalewski
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk Visits the Polish-Belarussian Border and talks to border guards.
Source: X@PremierRP/photo- Krystian Maj KPRP

While people around the world celebrated Donald Tusk’s win due to his friendlier stance towards the European Union than PiS (Law and Justice), Donald Tusk has just proven he leans more conservative than what other nations may have imagined, particularly from an American perspective. Tusk has announced that Poland will fortify its border with Belarus. This is in response to Russia using Belarus as a means to fight a proxy war with the European Union by weaponizing illegal immigration. Currently Polish border guards report that there are around 300 attempts daily of people trying to illegally cross the border.

This however would not be the first time that the Polish government built a physical wall to protect its borders. Under the previous government, Poland already built a border wall that has a length of 180 kilometers along the national border it shares with Belarus, with a height of 5,5 meters tall. The border wall also comes equipped with cameras and sensors to help monitor anyone trying to cross the border. Donald Tusk will expand the border wall to also cover Poland’s land border with Ukraine and Russia.

Schengen Area Obligations

Besides protecting its own national territory, Poland is also obligated to protect its eastern borders with Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia due to being a member state of the Schengen Area. Being a member state brings many advantages such as the ability for people to enjoy freer movement within the Schengen Area, yet these privileges also come with responsibilities. Member states of the Schengen Area must protect external borders in order to allow for no border controls within the area. As anyone can travel for up to 90 days throughout the Schengen Area, regardless whether they possess citizenship from a Schengen Area member or not, this is why it is crucial for external borders to be properly guarded. All EU member states except for Ireland and Cyprus have joined the Schengen Area, although Bulgaria and Romania are in an unprecedented situation where citizens can freely travel by sea or air, but still have additional controls set on them if they cross land borders.

Map showing the current member states of the Schengen Area. Source: European Parliament, European Commission.

Weaponized Migration

This is not the first time this tactic will be used, a famous example is Fidel Castro who weaponized migration against the United States. The goal of weaponized migration is to destabilize the targeted nation, distracting them with a domestic crisis so the nation who weaponized migration can be left alone to do something else, often nefarious. In the case of Russia, it has weaponized migration against EU member states in an attempt to be left alone in order to continue its invasion of Ukraine. While initially called a ‘special military operation’ by Putin, the invasion of Ukraine has now lasted for over two years.

Besides threatening the sovereignty of EU member states, it should also be addressed that it is unfair that Belarus and Russia take advantage of people who want to immigrate to Europe, and Belarus and Russia use them as weapons to achieve their own political goals. This repulsive behavior needs to be addressed immediately as Russia and Belarus risk the wellbeing of people completely uninvolved in the political conflicts between the two nations and the European Union. Unless individuals desire to make an asylum claim, EU member states are not obligated to allow people to immigrate irregularly, which is why member states such as Poland and Finland have pushed back on irregular immigration from the Russian, Belarussian borders. 

Belarus Sanctions

While much of the migration is in order to distract EU member states from the war in Ukraine, Belarus is also partially assisting to help cause a migration crisis on the EU’s eastern border due to sanctions placed on the nation after the election in 2020. President Lukashenko is known as Europe’s last dictator and has been in power since 1994. The nation experienced massive protests due to official election results alleging that Lukashenko received 80 percent of the vote. Due to the political climate in the nation, many citizens refused to accept Lukashenko won once again as many citizens expressed their disapproval of him and said they would vote against him.

His opponent, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was an unusual candidate. In reality, her husband declared his candidacy against Lukashenko. He was arrested shortly after but Tskikhanouskaya was determined to not allow her husband’s sacrifice to go in vain. She took his place as the opposition candidate. She also declared herself the winner of the election, accusing Lukashenko of rigging the election. No independent monitors were allowed to watch the election to ensure it was free and fair. Tskihanouskaya would later flee to Lithuania to avoid being arrested by the Belarussian government, upset she dared challenge Lukashenko. The Belarussian government sentenced her to 15 years in prison while she remains outside the nation, most likely to deter her from returning in the near future to challenge Lukashenko in the next election.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya speaks with supporters in Washington D.C. Source: Alejandro Alvarez/Sipa/AP


While European Union member states permit immigration based on specific national requirements, Donald Tusk is making it clear that it will not allow uncontrolled migration to occur, simply because the nation supports Ukraine in its resistance against Russia’s invasion. While temporarily forgotten about, the fight for democracy will become an issue once again in Belarus as people are still unsatisfied with the political situation, potentially next year during the next presidential election. Until the political situation changes, Russia and Belarus will continue to threaten the rest of Europe. While EU member states may disagree with one another on various topics, migration is not weaponized in the same way. 

Please Read The Following For More Information:

Chersicla, Rick. “People as a Weapons System: Moscow and Minsk’s Continued Attempts to Weaponize Migration”. Irregular Warfare Initiative. 18 January 2024. 
“Poland will build fortifications on eastern border, PM Tusk says”, Reuters. 11 May 2024.

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