Belarus intensifies cooperation with China
Chinese government decided to provide Belarus with a soft loan of USD 1 billion, as well as with Yuan 70 million of a gratuitous grant. Chinese money can be spent on the modernization of factories and infrastructure, for implementation of a multi-vector privatization policy and to demonstrate competition.
A Chinese governmental delegation visited Belarus. As a result of the visit a series of agreements on the establishment of Sino-Belarus industrial park, on economic and technological cooperation have been signed by the governments, as well as a framework agreement between the Government of Belarus and the Export-Import Bank of China on financial cooperation in the area of privatization and attracting Chinese investments to the Republic of Belarus in 2011-2012, inter alia, a number of investment agreements.
The Chinese government decided to provide Belarus with a soft loan of USD 1 billion for implementation of the existing joint projects, as well as with Yuan 70 million of a gratuitous grant.
The authorities are trying to diversify portfolio of potential investors in the privatization process.
Belarus needs the loan money for the modernization of industry and infrastructure. Therefore regardless of the fact that the Chinese loans are conditional their importance should not be underestimated. The authorities are trying to diversify portfolio of potential investors in the privatization process. Regardless of everything, Russian investors are trying to bring down the prices for the Belarus assets, buying small objects in the regions. China may become a competitor, allowing keeping the prices up. However, the dependence of the Belarusian leadership on Russia is too significant, challenging the efficiency of the Eastern dimension.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.