Belarus staves off ‘privatisation’ pressure from the Kremlin

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April 22, 2016 18:54

Moscow hosted another round of negotiations between Belarus’ First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and Dmitry Rogozin, to discuss joint integration projects and the implementation of mutually beneficial arrangements for the supply of oil and petroleum products.

The Kremlin has placed conditions for providing oil preferences to Belarus, such as the privatisation of Belarus’ state assets by Russian companies within the Eurasian integration. Moscow is also toying with the option of receiving compensation for losses from reduced Russo-Ukrainian cooperation in the military-industrial sphere by involving the Belarusian defence industry in joint projects. This also interests Minsk. In turn, Belarus is interested in swiftly introducing competitive conditions for economic entities (as of January 1st, 2015 Russian companies can use budgetary subsidies to purchase Belarusian equipment). In Minsk’s viewpoint, this will enable domestic producers to unload their stock. Meanwhile, with the Kremlin busy with dealing with the ‘Ukrainian’ issue, Minsk is successfully delaying the privatisation process.

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Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries entangle in confrontation spiral
October 02, 2017 11:57
Фото: RFRM

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.

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