Studia Migracyjne – Przegląd Polonijny

Belarus’s Coercive Engineered Migration Case of 2021–2022: Categorisation of State Media Narratives

Data publikacji: 02.2024

Studia Migracyjne – Przegląd Polonijny, 2023 (XLIX), Nr 3 (189), s. 79 - 99



Andrei Yeliseyeu
Ośrodek Badań nad Migracjami, Uniwersytet Warszawski
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8808-4744 Orcid
Wszystkie publikacje autora →


This study deploys a narrative analysis of stories on the topic of the so-called migration crisis on the EU-Belarus border published on the website of the key Belarusian publishing house Belarus Segodnya between the 1st of June 2021 and the 31st of March 2022. The key eleven narratives were deconstructed through a close engagement with and interpretation of over 1,500 topical publications. The ongoing humanitarian crisis at the EU-Belarus border which peaked in late 2021 followed from the Belarusian regime’s attempt to attain foreign policy goals, foremost the suspension of EU sanctions. The study applies the concept of coercive engineered migration proposed by Kelly Greenhill and finds that the content of most identified narratives fits Greenhill’s predictions that coercing actors focus on manipulating the ability and willingness of targeted states to accept groups of migrants and that challengers tend to impose hypocrisy costs on targets to increase coercive power. The analysis suggests that some of the major state media narratives fit into two groups of coercing strategies proposed by Greenhill while others can be accommodated in the category related to hypocrisy costs. These “blame shifting” narratives cast full responsibility for the origin and persistence of the migrant crisis on the targeted actors. An additional “triggering catastrophe” category is proposed which includes narratives which project cataclysms for the targeted actors and high cost of not hosting migrants for them.


Adamczyk A. (2022). The Way of Presenting Political Events in Mass Media: Interpretation of the Events at the Poland-Belarus Border Determined by the Owner of the Medium. Political Preferences, 29, 24–46. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31261/polpre.2021.29.24-46.

Al Jazeera (2021). Lukashenko defends Belarus flight diversion, denounces critics. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/5/26/lukashenko-defends-belarus-flight-diversion-hits-out-at-critics.

Bekić J. (2022). Coercive Engineered Migrations as a Tool of Hybrid Warfare: A Binary Com­parison of Two Cases on the External EU Border, Croatian Political Science Review, 59(2), 141–169.

CPS (2019). 10 Most Censored Countries, Committee to Protect Journalists. https://cpj.org/reports/2019/09/10-most-censored-eritrea-north-korea-turkmenistan-journalist/ (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

Council Decision (2012). Council Decision 2012/642/CFSP of 15 October 2012 concerning restric­tive measures against Belarus, The Official Journal of the EU. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dec/2012/642/oj.

De Fina A. and Georgakopoulou A. (2012). Analyzing narrative: Discourse and sociolinguistic perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

European Council (2021). Special meeting of the European Council, 24–25 May 2021 – Conclu­sions. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/49791/2425-05-21-euco-conclusions-en.pdf (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

Frontex (2022). Risk Analysis for 2022/2023. https://www.frontex.europa.eu/assets/Publications/Risk_Analysis/Risk_Analysis/ARA_2022_Public_Web.pdf (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

Greenhill K. (2008). Strategic Engineered Migration as a Weapon of War, Civil Wars, 10(1), 6–21.

Greenhill K. (2010). Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion, and Foreign Policy. New York: Cornell University Press.

Greenhill K. (2021). When migrants become weapons, Foreign Affairs, March 2022, 101(2), 155–164.

Hollifield J. F. and Wong T. K. (2014). The Politics of International Migration: How Can We “Bring The State Back In”?, Migration Theory : Talking Across Disciplines, C. B. Brettell, J. F. Hollifield (eds.), New York: Routledge, 227–288.

Kazharski A. (2023). An Authoritarian Spectacle: Visual Biopolitics and the Dramaturgy of the Poland-Belarus Border Migration Crisis, Visual Anthropology, 36(4), 373–396. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/08949468.2023.2207452.

Liďák J. and Štefančík R. (2022). Migration diplomacy as a foreign policy instrument, Politické vedy 25(2), 130–150. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24040/politickevedy.2022.25.2.130-150.

Miskimmon A., O’Loughlin B., Roselle L. (2013). Strategic Narratives, Communication Power and the New World Order. New York: Routledge.

Mitchell C. (1989). International Migration, International Relations and Foreign Policy. The Inter­national Migration Review, 23(3), 681–708.

Roselle L., Miskimmon A., O’Loughlin B. (2014). Strategic narrative: A new means to understand soft power, Media, War & Conflict, 7(1), 70–84. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1750635213516696

RSF (2022). RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders. https://rsf.org/en/index (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

RSF (2023a). Press freedom in Europe overshadowed by the war in Ukraine, Reporters Without Borders. https://rsf.org/en/classement/2023/europe-central-asia (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

RSF (2023b). Belarus, Reporters Without Borders. https://rsf.org/en/country/belarus (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

SB.BY, 22 July 2021. Lithuania started a war against migrants, neighbours and common sense [in Russian]. https://www.sb.by/articles/obyknovennyy-fashizm-litva-migranti.html (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

SB.BY, 4 August 2021. Vilnius does not have a solution except for clearly fascist methods, the expert says about the migration crisis [in Russian]. https://www.sb.by/articles/ekspert-o-mi­gratsionnom-krizise-u-ofitsialnogo-vilnyusa-net-resheniy-krome-otkrovenno-fashistskikh-p.html (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

SB.BY, 10 September 2021. Dzermant speaks about migration problems on the EU-Belarus border: the Polish and Lithuanian authorities refuse to respect international obligations concerning assistance to vulnerable people and attempt to stop flows by force [in Russian]. https://www.sb.by/articles/dzermant-o-migratsionnykh-problemakh-na-granitse-belarusi-i-es-polskie-i-litovskie-vlasti-otkazyvayu.html (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

SB.BY, 13 October 2021. Who and what is the wave of discontent directed against in various countries? [in Russian]. https://www.sb.by/articles/anatomiya-protestov.html (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

SB.BY, 19 October 2021. Poland and Lithuania put themselves outside the law and became the countries which openly disregard human values [in Russian]. https://www.sb.by/articles/tsepnye-psy-na-korotkom-povodke.html (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

SB.BY, 29 October 2021. The situation with migrants on the Polish border is just a pretext to justify changes in the balance of power [in Russian]. https://www.sb.by/articles/nado-byt-nacheku.html (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

SB.BY, 11 November 2021. Will the EU and Warsaw take responsibility for the suffering of refugees and the death of an unborn child? [in Russian]. https://www.sb.by/articles/zastryavshie-u-adskikh-vorot-polshi.html (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

SB.BY, 12 November 2021. Makei: Poland is using the migration crisis to distract attention from domestic problems [in Russian]. https://www.sb.by/articles/makey-polsha-ispolzuet-migrat­sionnyy-krizis-chtoby-otvlech-vnimanie-ot-svoikh-vnutrennikh-problem.html (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

SB.BY, 4 December 2021. Quickly sinking into fascism, Poland decided to accuse Germany of the same [in Russian]. https://www.sb.by/articles/zhzhet-pospolitaya-ili-belorusskie-media-pobedili.html (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

SB.BY, 20 December 2021. Emil Czeczko’s confession is a political shooting in the remains of the collective West’s consciousness, Shchiokin says [in Russian]. https://www.sb.by/articles/shchyekin-priznaniya-emilya-chechko-eto-politicheskiy-vystrel-v-ostatki-soznaniya-kollektivno­go-zapa.html (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

SB.BY, 22 December 2021. The Council of the Republic addressed European parliamentarians in connection with their statements concerning the situation in Belarus [in Russian]. https://www.sb.by/articles/sovet-respubliki-prinyal-obrashchenie-k-evropeyskim-parlamentariyam-v-svyazi-s-zayavleniyami-o-situa.html (Accessed: 15.12.2023).

Teitelbaum M. (1983). International migration and foreign policy, In Defense of the Alien, 6: 219–223. Center for Migration Studies of New York, Inc.


Informacje: Studia Migracyjne – Przegląd Polonijny, 2023 (XLIX), s. 79 - 99

Typ artykułu: Oryginalny artykuł naukowy



Belarus’s Coercive Engineered Migration Case of 2021–2022: Categorisation of State Media Narratives



Andrei Yeliseyeu
Ośrodek Badań nad Migracjami, Uniwersytet Warszawski
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8808-4744 Orcid
Wszystkie publikacje autora →

Ośrodek Badań nad Migracjami, Uniwersytet Warszawski

Publikacja: 02.2024

Status artykułu: Otwarte __T_UNLOCK

Licencja: CC BY-NC-ND  ikona licencji

Udział procentowy autorów:

Andrei Yeliseyeu (Autor) - 100%

Korekty artykułu:


Języki publikacji:


Liczba wyświetleń: 197

Liczba pobrań: 188