NewsGerman authorities warn of Putin's hybrid tactics with migrants

German authorities warn of Putin's hybrid tactics with migrants

German media on Putin's actions. "Again using a perfidious strategy"
German media on Putin's actions. "Again using a perfidious strategy"
Images source: © East News | Pawel Wodzynski

5:43 AM EDT, May 23, 2024

German authorities fear that Putin is once again using immigrants to influence elections in the EU and Germany. They emphasize that the "lives of refugees are being deliberately endangered." This was reported by "Sueddeutsche Zeitung."

According to the German newspaper, Germany is increasingly concerned about the situation at the EU's external borders. The German federal police are increasingly detaining migrants at the Polish border who have illegally entered the EU via Russia and Belarus, writes "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" (SZ) on Wednesday. Unofficial information from the newspaper and public broadcasters WDR and NDR indicates that Russia and Belarus are once again intensively trying to smuggle migrants from poor or crisis-ridden regions to the European Union, particularly to Germany.

According to federal police statistics, in January and February 2024, migration via this route dropped so significantly that it was barely detectable.

"But now the numbers have risen sharply again," writes "SZ." In March, 412 people were detained who arrived via this route, in April 670, and by mid-May, 416. The Polish border guard also notes an increase in the number of people arriving from Belarus. "Security circles are once again talking about hybrid warfare," the German newspaper writes.

Smuggling across the border at the cost of travel

"Sueddeutsche Zeitung" admits that illegal migration usually increases on all routes at the beginning of summer. However, authorities believe that in the case of the route through Russia and Belarus, it has a systemic character. Without government interference, an increase in migration through Moscow and Minsk would not be possible. According to the federal police, most of the people entering the Russian Federation do so by air and then continue their journey by land. The documents they possess are often short-term Russian visas such as those issued to tourists, businessmen, or students.

"According to findings, half of the migrants with documents confirming their travel route have Russian visas issued in their home countries. Information shows that Russia is readily issuing entry visas in some countries to attract migrants. They frequently fly to Moscow or St. Petersburg, from where they travel to Belarus and then try to enter the EU," writes "SZ," citing security service sources. According to the newspaper, the journey can be "booked" along with smuggling across the border.

Putin tries to influence elections

This year, the total number of people crossing the Belarusian route is still significantly lower than in previous years, amounting to 1,549 cases (in 2022, it was 8,511, and in 2023, 11,881) according to the newspaper. However, there may be a significant increase in the coming months. "SZ" quotes a high-ranking German security official: "The problem is not the current numbers but the forecasts." By causing an increase in the number of refugees, "Putin may be trying to influence opinions in Germany in a super-election year with European elections in June and regional elections in Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia in September," the newspaper assesses.

According to German authorities, the origin of refugees has changed. While a few years ago, most migrants arriving via Russia and Belarus came from Iraq, the main countries of origin are now Syria and Afghanistan. However, findings indicate that many people come from Somalia, Yemen, and Eritrea.

Tusk talks about hybrid war

German authorities do not see migration itself as a threat, the newspaper notes. The danger lies rather in the fact that, according to an earlier Interior Ministry report, "some states are exploiting this issue to delegitimize the target state by allegedly overburdening it, thereby further weakening and destroying its international reputation." At the same time, "the lives of refugees are being deliberately endangered." "In individual cases, there were links between migrants and the terrorist organization Islamic State. However, this concerned a very small number of people," the newspaper adds.

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