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.
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.