CIS Summit postponed decisions on most important issues for Belarusian authorities

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April 22, 2016 18:23

The Belarusian authorities had to postpone until the year-end the decision on the most important for them issues regarding the economic cooperation with Russia. According to the ruling group, Russia is not interested in deteriorated relations with Belarus and continues to provide financial support, in spite of the non- fulfillment of the agreement conditions by the Belarusian side.

On 5 December President Lukashenko took part in the Summit of the CIS states in Ashgabad. 

For Belarus the main result of the Summit in Ashgabad is a negative one, namely the negotiations between Presidents Lukashenko and Putin failed to take place. There is a probability that the Russian President has ignored his Belarusian Colleague due to the recent statement made by Lukashenko to the “Reuter” agency on the health problems of Putin. In any case, the bilateral meeting has never taken place and the Press-Service of Lukashenko announced that such event had not been even planned.

As a result Minsk had to postpone the decision of the most important economic questions (first of all it is the balance of the oil supplies for 2013 as well as a number of privatization agreements) to December 19th, when the sitting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Belarus and Russia should take place in Moscow.

At the same time, Moscow continues to demonstrate its political will to consider the financial problems of Belarus: on December 7th the Anti-crisis Fund of the Euro-Asian Economic Union (EuroAsEs) provided to Belarus the 4th tranche of USD 440 million. Moreover, the Belarusian and Russian financial officials agreed that Minsk has not fulfilled all the conditions of the credit agreement, and that the decision on the provision of the tranche is a political one.

Most likely that in the surrounding of Lukashenko they highly value the interest of the Russian authorities in the development of the project of the Euro-Asian Economic Union and that is why Minsk continues to fulfill selectively the agreements with the Kremlin in the sphere of privatization and financial politics – even if theoretically there is a threat not to sign the important agreements for the next year. Such a policy of the “taking by attritionis a customary common practice for Minsk: e.g. the agreement on the gas provisions to Belarus in 2007 was signed on 31 December 2006 just few minutes before the New Year.

At the same time it is worth noting that President Lukashenko remains the center of the decision making in Belarus. That is why one should not underestimate the meaning of the other channels in decision making, in particular, the 12 December planned bilateral meeting of Prime-Minister of the Republic of Belarus Myasnikovich and Russian Prime-Minister Medvedev in the framework of the Council of Ministers of the Union State. The stand of Prime-Minister Myasnikovich today is especially week, and he is not in a position to influence on the decisions of Lukashenko in favor of the Kremlin. 

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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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