Incident with Belavia plane not to affect Belarusian-Ukrainian relations
The relations between Minsk and Kiev are too important for the Belarusian authorities to put them at risk. Ukraine is an important partner for Belarus in the economic, military-technical and political spheres. The incident is likely to be exhausted after Belarus completes the necessary diplomatic rituals.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry made reprehensions over the actions of the Ukrainian authorities to force the return of a Belavia plane to Kyiv on October 21st en route Kyiv-Minsk and demanded an official apology and a compensation of all costs.
Currently, Belarus and Ukraine are in a situational alliance, albeit not a strategic one, which is very important for Minsk. The Ukrainian market is one of the most important for Belarus’ exports. Amid special nature of political relations between the leaders of the two states, Minsk has enlisted Kyiv’s support in normalising relations with the West. In addition, Belarus regards Ukraine as a major deterrent to the Kremlin's expansionist ambitions.
Despite the importance of Russia for the Belarusian foreign policy, after 2014, Belarus and Ukraine have been developing military-technical cooperation. Traditionally, they develop technological cooperation in the anti-missile systems field. For instance, following an order from Belarus, Ukrainian specialists developed a short-range anti-aircraft missile. In addition, Ukraine is likely to transfer the missile technology to Belarus. In addition, the two states cooperate in developing and producing light wheeled armoured vehicles. That said, on October 27th, Ambassador of Belarus in Ukraine Igor Sokol met with Ukrainian Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council Oleksandr Turchynov, during which they discussed a wide range bilateral issues.
Minsk regards the incident with the Belavia airliner as a regrettable misunderstanding caused by poor coordination between the Ukrainian security agencies. The scale of the incident is unlikely to affect the relationship between the two states. Both states are interested in preserving the special nature of the bilateral cooperation in all areas, including those, which rarely get media coverage.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.