Belarus’ commitment to the “good neighborhood” policy is a challenge
By Andrei Parotnikau
Minsk has reiterated its commitment to the "good neighborhood belt" military policy regarding the neighboring NATO states and Ukraine. However, a demonstrative fidelity to the Belarusian-Russian defense alliance is a sticking point.
On March 25th, 2020, joint training of the Belarusian Air Force and the Air Defense Forces and the Polish Air Force will be held regarding the exchange of information on flights. The event was scheduled in November 2019 and incorporated in the 2020 International Military Cooperation Plan.
On March 5th, 2019, Aleksander Lukashenka spoke in favor of advancing relations with NATO, citing the fact that three out of five Belarus’ neighbors were already members and Ukraine seeking to join it. On March 28th, 2019, the General Staffs of the armies of Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine held a meeting in Warsaw, focusing on confidence-building and regional security matters.
On July 9th, 2019, the Head of the General Staff of the Belarusian Army, Aleh Belakoneu, visited Ukraine. At a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Ruslan Khomchak, the sides discussed regional security and further development of bilateral military relations.
On August 18th-20th, 2019, the Commander of the Latvian Army Lieutenant General Leonīds Kalniņš visited Minsk. The Latvian delegation visited the Belarusian Military Academy and a military unit, which was an unprecedented event for a NATO state.
On August 30th-31st, Secretary of Belarus’ State Security Council Zas and Deputy Foreign Minister Krauchanka met with the leadership of the National Security Bureau of the Polish President in Warsaw and participated in a four-party meeting of the Security Council heads of Belarus, Poland, Ukraine and former Assistant for National Security to the U.S. President John Bolton.
Belarus is consistently showing interest in developing bilateral military-political relations with Ukraine and the neighboring NATO states. During the usual military briefings of Belarus’ Defense Ministry held in February 2019 and 2020, the ministry reiterated this desire. Simultaneously, Belarus declares commitment to a military alliance with Russia. Meanwhile, the latter is regarded by Belarus’ neighbors as the main regional security threat. The special and non-transparent nature of military cooperation between Minsk and Moscow will remain a deterrent to improving security dialogue between Belarus and her neighbors in the future.