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‘We are targets of a hybrid war’ An engineered migration crisis as a regime survival strategy and legitimation ‘mission’

Publié le 9 février 2024 Mis à jour le 9 février 2024

New chapter out by Ekaterina Pierson-Lyzhina (with Piotr Sula) in Geopolitical and Humanitarian Aspects of the Belarus–EU Border Conflict. Routledge 2024.

Abstract: Drawing on the literature on authoritarian regime survival strategies, as well as literature on foreign policies for domestic and international legitimation, this chapter argues that an authoritarian regime, in a serious legitimacy crisis, can use foreign policy provocations to re-claim both its domestic and international legitimacy. Extending the ‘missions’ framework on autocratic legitimation (Kneuer 2017) to efforts targeting foreign donors of legitimacy, the authors analyse the migration crisis engineered in 2021 by Alyaksander Lukashenka’s regime as a legitimation mission aimed at forging domestic legitimacy, reversing delegitimation by the European Union, and increasing legitimacy in the eyes of the Kremlin. It shows, using an analysis of Lukashenka’s communication through the Belarusian state-controlled, Western, and Russian media, that the output legitimation targeting all three donors included tropes of being a ‘strong and efficient state’, a ‘security provider’, and a ‘defender of human rights (of migrants)’. The ideational–identitarian accompaniment was composed of ‘anti-Westernism’ and ‘othering of the opposition’.

More information: Routledge