The Belarusian leadership continues to exploit an alleged “threat from the West”

Category status:
- (The situation has deteriorated)
07-13.09.2020

By Dzianis Melyantsou

The Belarusian authorities continue to promote a narrative about a Western organized coup d’etat attempt in Belarus, hoping for Russian support in stabilizing the situation in the country. The violent crackdown on protests and the continuing repression directed at Coordination Council members has prompted a negative response from European capitals and the United States. Nevertheless, diplomatic channels continue operations whilst the sanctions currently discussed by the West, are symbolic.

During an interview with Russian journalists on September 8th, Lukashenka said that the protests in Belarus “are controlled by the Americans from the focal point near Warsaw through well-known Telegram channels [...] The second focal point is the Czech Republic, followed by Lithuania”.

On September 11th, EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell regretted the increasingly open disregard for the rule of law in Belarus, the escalation of violence, and the forced expulsion of the Coordination Council members from the country. According to him, the European Union reaffirmed its determination to impose sanctions on those responsible for the violence, suppression of peaceful protests and falsification of election results, and was ready to take further restrictive measures, as necessary.

Previously, President of the European Council Charles Michel urged to speed up the process of introducing sanctions. So far, the draft list includes 20 persons, but German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday that the list could be extended in the case of the lack of response by the Belarusian authorities.

On September 11th, at a briefing for journalists on the situation in Belarus, US First Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said that the US was discussing with European states targeted sanctions against Belarus. According to Biegun, the people of Belarus rejected the government headed by Lukashenka.

Despite the deterioration in relations with the West after the elections, diplomatic communication channels remain open. On September 11th, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States of the State Secretariat of the Holy See, visited Belarus. He met with Foreign Minister Makei. According to the Foreign Ministry, the parties discussed, among other things, the post-election situation in Belarus and cooperation within the UN, including the Vatican's support for the activities of the Group of Friends united in the fight against human trafficking.

On September 10th, the head of the Department for International Military Cooperation of the Defense Ministry, Oleg Voinov, met with Charge d'Affaires of the United States Jeffrey Giauque and Defense Attaché Shawn Kyle. According to the Defense Ministry, during the meeting “the Belarusian side updated on the domestic political situation in the country, and expressed concern about the escalation of tension in the region and the next round of the “arms race”. The Ministry also warned against the interference in Belarus’ domestic affairs.