Rockets: Belarus will not sell, and Ukraine will not buy

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May 29, 2017 9:44
Фото: TUT.BY

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.

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Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries entangle in confrontation spiral
October 02, 2017 11:57
Фото: RFRM

Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.

The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.

Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.

For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.

Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.

The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.

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