The British government is sending some 150 military personnel to help guard against illegal immigration – not to Britain’s own hotspot border crisis, but to the European Union member-state of Poland instead.
Britain’s Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, has agreed with Poland’s Minister of National Defence, Mariusz Błaszczak, to deploy a roughly 150-strong force of Royal Engineers to the Polish frontier Russia-allied Belarus, which has become a hotspot for Middle Eastern migrants effectively trafficked to Minsk by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko attempting to breach the eastern border of the EU and NATO.
“I would like to emphasize that the Polish border is tight and it will be tight. No one who tries to cross the border illegally will be able to do it, despite the efforts of the Lukashenko regime, and despite hybrid attacks, we will ensure Poland’s security,” commented Błaszczak, expressing his thanks that Polish forces would soon be carrying out this task “with support from British soldiers ”
A small detachment of British troops had already been sent to the border to see how British forces might help the Poles to tackle the crisis, and according to the Polish government the larger deployment will do so by “repairing the temporary fence on the Polish-Belarusian border and maintaining and clearing road connections.”
“[T]he situation on the Polish-Belarusian border, it is a conscious attempt to destabilize not only Poland, not only Latvia and neighbouring countries, but also all of Europe to simply weaken the whole of Europe,” Secretary Wallace said in a statement on the deployment quoted by the Polish government.
“The best way to respond is to work together hand in hand, not only within NATO, but simply as good friends and partners… we call on Alexander Lukashenko to stop this disgusting attempt to use people as a weapon,” he added.
Wojska inżynieryjne z będą pomagać Polakom w reperacji tymczasowego ogrodzenia na granicy polsko-białoruskiej. Dziś odbyło się spotkanie ministra @mblaszczak i @BWallaceMP, sekretarza obrony , na którym omówiono szczegóły tej współpracy.
— Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej 🇵🇱 (@MON_GOV_PL) November 18, 2021
The move to aid Poland in its very robust efforts to defend its border against illegal immigration and strong condemnation of Lukashenko’s role in, at the very least, allowing the crisis to take place, may cause some frustration among British voters who have been crying out for their country’s governing Conservative Party to tackle their own migrant crisis for years.
Indeed, despite the number of illegal migrants crossing the English Channel — much more defensible than Poland’s thickly-forested land frontier with Belarus, at least in theory — having hit new highs of well over a thousand migrants a day recently, there still appears to be no prospect of the Boris Johnson administration getting a grip on the situation, with talk of Britain’s Border Force turning boats back or asylum seekers being sent to Albania for offshore processing both seemingly dead on arrival.
Given some of the migrants at the Polish frontier have expressed a desire to continue on to Britain if they manage to break through the Polish border, however, helping the Poles to hold the line may have the indirect effect of stopping the Channel crisis from getting even worse than it otherwise could.