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Why is the Polish terminal in Malashevichi a pain for Lukashenka?

Why is the Polish terminal in Malashevichi a pain for Lukashenka?

Last week, Poland "extremely vigilantly" looked after cargo at the large railway terminal in Malashevichi for 33 hours and threatened to close it. The day before, on June 22, the head of the Polish Foreign Ministry Radoslaw Sikorski said that Poland can completely close the border for goods. This happened after an incident at the border, when a migrant fatally wounded a Polish soldier. Warsaw demanded that Minsk hand over the attacker, as well as stop the migration crisis at the border and release journalist Andrzej Pachobut.

So what is this terminal in Malashevichi and why its closure could be very painful for Lukashenka's regime?

The fact is that the vast majority of cargo passing through the terminal is Chinese. The terminal is one of the chains of China's "One Belt, One Road" project. It is the fastest way to deliver goods from China to Europe by rail, the largest container and transshipment hub.

The closure of such a terminal means the cessation of most of the transit from China to the West. For China, this will mean the need to find workarounds, new partners and an increase in the price of the route, and for the Belarusian Railways - the loss of the largest source of financing. Because, as you know, passenger transportation is unprofitable for it and it earns on cargo, that is, mainly on such transit. Considering that now is far from the best times for the Belarusian Railways, this may become the nail in its coffin.

China's problems are complicated by the war in Ukraine, which has made it impossible to use its territory for the transit of goods from the East. China has alternative ways of transporting goods by sea. However, transportation through the terminal in Malashevichi takes from 11 days to two weeks. And the way across the sea takes up to several months.

China is also developing an option through Georgia and the Black Sea. But the Black Sea is now not the safest place for transit. Belarusian Malashevichs were a much simpler alternative.

Closing the terminal in Malashevichi will spoil economic relations with China. Until recently, the terminal in Malashevichi was an active and uninterrupted channel. If its transit is completely interrupted, it will make less sense for China to consider Belarus from the point of view of economic cooperation.

In September of last year, the first deputy of the Brest branch of "Belarusian Railways" Gennady Azarankau stated that the volume of railway transportation between China and Europe is constantly increasing. At that time, about 150 freight trains passed through Brest every month, 70% of which carried goods from China.


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