Military industrial complex outlook as a bridge between Russia and Belarus
Enhanced cooperation with Russia in the military sphere reinforces a safety cushion for a number of Belarusian companies by enabling them to take part in state procurement orders. Simultaneously, the cooperation programme’s ambiguity will push Belarus to seek additional funding opportunities, not necessarily in Russia.
In Minsk on October 23rd, Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin signed an action plan to intensify cooperation between the defense industrial complexes of the two countries for 2012-2015.
The signed document is a framework agreement, but the tone of statements by vice premier Rogozin implied that Russia has not abandoned attempts to acquire some Belarusian industrial assets. In particular, during the visit, two companies were named: “Integral” (computer technology) and MAZ (engineering), however the details and additional conditions for cooperation between these companies have not been disclosed. It is a known fact, that talks about MAZ and KAMAZ merger are ongoing.
In turn, Belarusian Prime Minister Myasnikovich expressed a desire to eliminate all restrictions still in force for a number of Belarusian industries within the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. It should be noted that this request is not in Rogozin’s competence: he is in charge of the military-industrial complex and military-technical cooperation.
Thus, the political outcome of Rogozin’s visit to Minsk was the shaping of yet another link between Minsk and Moscow, in the security sphere and military-technical cooperation. However, the failure to address specific issues, i.e. the volume of financial support or compensation to the Belarusian defense industry and corresponding industrial enterprises – is most likely to cause Minsk to look for additional support. Therefore it is still possible that cooperation with the West will be enhanced, if Russia does not offer Belarus a profitable continuation of the project in question.
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.