Kremlin agreed to wait until presidential elections to settle air base deployment in Belarus
At a press conference following the meeting of the EEU governments in Grodno, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that the agreement on the deployment of the Russian airbase in Belarus would be signed whenever was suitable for Belarus. The Belarusian authorities still avoid official comments about the Russian military facility deployment in Belarus, and the state-run media simply ignore this topic. Meanwhile, Russia has twice released information in this regard, provoking a backlash of the opposition and consolidation of the national democratic movement. Nevertheless, the Kremlin is ready to wait until the end of the presidential campaign in Belarus to settle this matter and the degree of persistence will depend on the logic of the development of Belarus’ relations with Western capitals.
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.