Lukashenko keeps trying formatting the “Teddy bear drop” as an international conspiracy
Attempts by the Belarusian authorities to make the “Teddy bear drop” look like an international conspiracy rather than a failure in the air-defense system, have not had the desired effect yet. The EU reaction was a fairly restrained one. It implies, that Belarus is yet to ‘provide an adequate response to the ‘teddy bear affairs’’.
On August 8th, Belarusian Foreign Ministry recalled its embassy in Sweden and requested the Swedish diplomatic mission staff to leave Minsk. On August 10, the KGB sent an official notice to Swedish nationals who took part in the ‘Teddy bear drop’, requesting them to come to Belarus for questioning saying their rights would be guaranteed. The KGB hinted that if the Swedes come to the “crime scene”, it could have a positive impact on the fate of those arrested on charges linked to the incident: a Belarusian student and a realtor, who were accused of “aiding and abetting” illegal border crossing.
The actions of the Belarusian authorities have caused a serious international outcry (for example, Swedish Foreign Minister informally said that “Lukashenko is behaving like a bandit”), but so far it all has not resulted in a full scale international conflict. The main reason behind this is a fairly restrained reaction by the European Union.
Resolution adopted by the Committee for Political and Security issued at a special EU meeting on August 10th, indicates, that Brussels is likely to fall for Belarus’ provocations and to extend the sanctions, but only after the parliamentary elections, depending on the way they would be carried out.
Attempts by the Belarusian authorities to make the “Teddy bear drop” look like an international conspiracy rather than a failure in the air-defense system, have not had the desired effect yet due to a fairly restrained reaction by the European Union. Moreover, avoidance of the EU to immediately extend the sanctions stripped Belarus of “trump” arguments for mobilizing allied assistance from Moscow.
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.