It is no surprise that a man who treats his own citizens so brutally should use others ruthlessly. Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, has jailed opposition leaders and arrested tens of thousands for protesting against last year’s highly dubious election; many were beaten and tortured. Even in exile, his opponents fear him.

Now, in retaliation for the resulting European Union sanctions on his regime, he is “weaponising” vulnerable people. The European Commission has accused him of gangster tactics, encouraging people from the Middle East and Africa to come to Minsk in the belief it will be easy to enter the EU, and providing transport to the Polish border, where thousands now wait. Armed guards are reported to have forced many across, knowing that they will be rejected. In the words of one Syrian refugee: “We are just an instrument to put the pressure on.”

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