Belarus to host CSTO exercises
On February 9th, after a meeting in Sochi with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin. Lukashenka met with General Secretary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization Nikolai Bordyuzha. They discussed security issues, the CSTO concern with the potential influx of refugees and the build-up of military infrastructure near the "CSTO borders”. They also discussed the upcoming exercises of CSTO peacekeeping forces, which should take place in September in Belarus. Rumours are that the CSTO exercises will be held very close to the "CSTO borders”.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.