Complete failure

Category status:
- (The situation has deteriorated)
01-31.12.2021
2 – Polish police on the border with Belarus. Image from Naša Niva's Telegram channel

In 2021 all the negative trends of 2020 were amplified. For the West, Minsk has moved from being a "complex interlocutor" (it was never considered a partner) to a direct "threat" to regional security.

The economic performance of the Belarusian military-industrial complex is not known for sure, as there is a growing tendency to hide financial results data for the defence industry. This, coupled with the inclusion of many such enterprises in Western sanctions lists, allows us to infer that overall, there has been a deterioration in this area. It is evident that without developing new products in demand on the international arms market, it will not be possible to reverse this negative trend. However, the collapse of the sector is not in the cards.

In 2021, a framework was created for law enforcement agency personnel to suppress protests. Therefore, the regime has (theoretically) 2.5 times more manpower at its disposal to quell public discontent. It is evident that, despite the sharp increase in repression, the authorities still lack confidence in their ability to restrain popular protests in the event of their resumption.

The Lukashenka regime lost independence in the field of security and transformed into an instrument of the Kremlin to put pressure on neighbouring states. Specifically, the regime intercepted the Ryanair airliner en route from one EU state to another; blackmailed the EU with illegal migrants; created joint training and combat centres with Russia (one operational in Belarus; two planned in Russia); stated about readiness to return Russian nuclear weapons to Belarus and fight together with Moscow against Ukraine; designated neighbouring EU states as enemies. All this happened amidst the gas crisis in the EU and Russia's December ultimatums to NATO and the United States on a new division of zones of domination in Europe between Moscow and Washington.

Belarus is now established as a source of security threats for neighbouring EU countries and Ukraine. To the delight of the Russian leadership, the West is curtailing its pre-2020 dialogue with Minsk on security matters in favour of addressing Belarusian issues via the Kremlin. Minsk does not yet fully realize this qualitatively different scenario and naively hopes to restore the status quo by softening some of its rhetoric. The Belarusian regime seems completely incapable of calculating even the immediate consequences of its actions and statements, effectively destroying Belarus’ strategic autonomy in the field of security. Understanding this will come a little later.

It is also worth noting that, despite the bellicose rhetoric of Minsk, in 2021 previously announced purchases of Russian aviation equipment (4 Mi-35 helicopters and Su-30SM fighters with a total value of up to USD 250 million) were not followed through. Moscow continues with its long-term strategy of declining to reinforce Belarusian defence potential. 

Forecasts for 2022 

The Belarusian regime will actively try to restore communication with the West, using the topic of regional security as an "entry point". 

To mitigate the visibility of critical dependence on the Kremlin, the regime will make attempts to secure symbolic gestures from China in the field of defence cooperation (receiving military-technical assistance, visits of Chinese military commanders, joint combat training events). 

The Belarusian military-industrial complex will continue to stagnate at best. 

The repressive nature of the regime will continue. 

 

 

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