As the crisis on the border between Poland and Belarus deepens, the EU is helpless as Minsk and Warsaw engage in power politics.

There are reports of an occasional shot fired on the border between Poland and Belarus. That is not unusual when young border guards are sworn to the unconditional defense of their homeland. But it is dangerous, because even small-scale hostilities on the frontier between enemies can quickly ignite into a blaze.

This crisis, above all, shows the weaknesses of Europe and the cynicism of power politics in Russia and Belarus.

Western officials have accused the leader of Belarus of sending migrants to EU borders as retaliation for sanctions. It’s an attempt to use human beings as weapons in a kind of hybrid warfare. But, whose idea was this – the ruler’s in the Kremlin or the dictator’s in Minsk? The clever nastiness of the idea seems to point more to Vladimir Putin than to the ruler in Belarus who at times comes across as brutish and simple at the same time. One could almost see Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov grinning when he suggested that the EU could buy its way out of the refugee transports to the Polish border, as it used to do with Turkey. The old political hand knows the weaknesses of his opponents.

Lukashenko, however, now has a first-class blackmailing tool in his hand. Accusations of inhumanity and mafia-style human trafficking have no impact on him. He is already a pariah in Moscow and has no reputation to lose. Also, the sanctions from Brussels so far haven’t really hurt him. That could only change if the EU imposes serious export bans. But it has so far refrained from doing so, out of consideration for the citizens of Belarus and for its own companies.