Minsk has demonstrated scope of commitment to CSTO
The participating states have used the CSTO as an instrument for obtaining material benefits from Russia. Albeit the CSTO members often talk about the common good, they nevertheless always prioritise their domestic interests. Lukashenka is unlikely to expand Belarus’ commitment to the alliance.
On June 13th, 2017, while hosting the Collective Security Treaty Organization ministerial meeting, Lukashenka made some statements, which, on the one hand, aimed to demonstrate Minsk’s commitment to collective security it had assumed, and on the other, to indicate the limits of such commitments.
As usual, Lukashenka talked about his support for developing and strengthening the CSTO as an important tool for ensuring the collective security for its members. The Belarusian leader spoke about Belarus' commitment to develop the military component in the CSTO, i.e. the Collective Rapid Reaction Force. That is, to obtain pro-bono arms and military equipment from Russia.
Simultaneously, Lukashenka stated that Belarus would be responsible for the western (i.e. East-European) vector, for which she is responsible jointly with Russia and guarantees security in this region. Although he did not articulate this, but Lukashenka had led CSTO Defence Ministers to a conclusion that the situation in Central Asia and the South Caucasus was important, but should be primarily a headache for Minsk’s formal allies from those regions.
The CSTO remains a fragmented quasi-alliance, a collection of Russia's bilateral military alliances with other member states. Moscow is the only pivot uniting countries which otherwise do not want to commit to each other. The CSTO positions itself as a classical universal collective security organisation, which has no regional "specialization" by definition and operates on the principle "one for all, and all for one". In reality, the member states aim to obtain maximum benefits at a minimum cost and assuming minimum commitments, which is common for the post-Soviet formations.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.