BBC published a report on Friday, detailing the journey of asylum seekers from Syria to Germany via Belarus. To enter the European Union, some were assisted directly by the Belarusian authorities on the border with Lithuania and Poland.
“The Syrians found the Belarusian military eager to assist,” the BBC wrote. “As the group stood close to the border, soldiers appeared and told them to wait. Minutes later, an armoured car arrived and took them to a military truck, where Idris and his friends found 50 other migrants huddled inside.”
The truck drove for a while, before a Belarusian soldier asked the group to wait, “to make sure the road to the Polish border was open”.
The soldier then escorted the entire group to Poland, potentially cutting the wire on the border. People detained in Lithuania also told the BBC they had received assistance from the Belarusian officers.
Read more: Migration crisis in Baltics and Poland
Alexander Lukashenko has largely used the same playbook as Turkey, which allowed hundreds of thousands of migrants to pass through the country toward the EU in 2015. The refugee flow was halted only after Brussels agreed to a 6-billion-euro deal to help Ankara deal with the cost of the influx.
Although a number of irregular migrants manage to reach Western Europe via Minsk, including the several people followed by the BBC, many end up detained.
“At least 10,000 migrants are now in detention – in the Baltics, Poland and Germany. For many, it has been a harrowing ordeal. A costly waste of time and money – and in some cases – lives,” the BBC wrote.