Security: Minsk aims to steer clear of new commitments to Moscow
Last week, a trend has developed, which manifested in Minsk’s desire to preserve close cooperation with Russia in the security field and to demonstrate allegiance to Moscow through participation in symbolic events.
In the current confrontation between the West and Ukraine on one side and Russia on the other side, the latter seeks to demonstrate that she is not isolated and has a wide range of friends and allies through organising symbolic international events. For instance, last week, Russia held three such events: the Second Military Sports Games of the friendly armies of the CIS member states, the International Army Games-2017 and the Commonwealth Warrior competition among the CIS states, held within the Army Games. The Belarusian military took an active part in the events. The Belarusian team ranked third in the military sports games, and for the second time in eight years won the right to hold the Commonwealth Warrior competition. In addition, Alexander Lukashenka greeted the participants of the Army Games on a par with Vladimir Putin.
Belarus’ participation in such Russian image-making events aims to demonstrate her readiness to cooperate with the Kremlin on security issues and to relax tension in bilateral political relations. Moreover, Minsk thereby has partially ‘compensated’ for its reluctance to side with Russia in the confrontation with the West and for developing Sino-Belarusian cooperation. That said, China is regarded by Moscow as a rival for influence in the post-Soviet space.
Conventionally, Russia is extremely sensitive to both, security issues and her image as an influential global player. Hence, Minsk is likely to retain high interest in preserving close cooperation in the security field with Russia and would publicly demonstrate its loyalty to Moscow. That said, Belarus would attempt to steer clear of assuming additional commitments to the Kremlin in this field. Such a trend has long been a corner stone in the Belarusian security policy. Hence, this is a stable trend which is likely to persist in future.
The country's leadership has instructed the local authorities to raise minimum wages at enterprises by the end of 2019 to BYN 1,000, which would lead to an increase in the average wage in the economy as a whole to BYN 1 500. The pace of wage growth in 2017 is insufficient to ensure payroll at BYN 1000 by late 2017 without manipulating statistical indicators. In order to fulfil the president’s order, the government would have to increase budgetary expenditures on wages in healthcare and education, enterprises – to carry out further layoffs and expand the practice of taking loans to pay wages and restrict investment in modernisation of fixed assets. In 2010, the artificial increase in wages led to a threefold devaluation in 2011, an increase in the average salary to BYN 1500 will not match the capabilities of the economy and would lead to yet another devaluation.