Rockets: Belarus will not sell, and Ukraine will not buy
Minsk seeks to avoid being drawn into the Russo-Ukrainian confrontation. At present, Belarus has no serious reasons to risk her relations with Russia for the sake of cooperation with Ukraine. In turn, the Ukrainian leadership has set a task to ensure maximum self-sufficiency in the armament plan, capable of strategic deterrence.
During Milex, the international arms exhibition held in Minsk last week, Belarus presented new ammunition for the Polonaise MLRS: rockets with 300 km and 280 km range. Some Russian military observers voiced concerns about the possible supply of the Polonaise to Ukraine.
Minsk is attempting to balance between Russia and Ukraine, striving to maintain high interaction levels with both, which is in Belarus’ pragmatic interests. Simultaneously, Russo-Belarusian relations enjoy an obvious priority. Should Belarus start supplying arms to Ukraine, the Kremlin would interpret it as a hostile act, and would respond accordingly.
In turn, the Ukrainian political establishment is increasingly convinced that the ally of the aggressor (i.e. Belarus) could not become a friend of the victim of aggression (i.e. Ukraine). The military alliance between Minsk and Moscow restricts military cooperation between Belarus and Ukraine. Striving for NATO membership, Ukraine cannot disregard the Alliance’s stance that Belarus is not an independent state, that she is completely dependent on Russia in the military plane. In addition, the course of the war has demonstrated that Ukraine should primarily rely on her own defence potential. In this regard, the Ukrainians are making vigorous efforts to create weapons similar to the Belarusian Polonaise.
Talks about the supply of rocket weapons from Belarus to Ukraine are speculative. Minsk would not agree to this, fearing the reaction from Moscow. Moreover, Kyiv has no acute need in this. Ukraine has the technological potential for creating own missile armament complex. Relative stabilization on the front gives time for such development. Treating missile weapons as an element of the strategic deterrence system, Kyiv wants to create and produce such weapons independently. That said, Belarusian Polonaise would rather have a rival in Ukraine in the future.
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.