Minsk attempts to resume regional security dialogue
By Andrei Parotnikau
The Belarusian authorities aim to resume a previously successful strategy that regional security issues are utilized to advance non-security ones.
On September 14th, 2020 when meeting with Putin in Sochi, current Belarusian leader drew parallels between NATO activity near the Belarusian border and Nazi Germany preparations to attack the USSR. He proposed to envisage a long-term plan of bilateral military exercises. Putin, however, made it clear Russia did not have the expansion of her military presence in Belarus on the agenda. He proposed to focus on bilateral military-industrial cooperation and added that military cooperation between the two states should develop following the existing plans.
On September 15th, 2020, a Belarusian Defense Ministry representative made a harsh statement towards the neighbouring NATO states and Ukraine. He announced a possible force response within the framework of the Belarus-Russia Union sate and the CSTO to possible aggression by NATO. There is no question that his statement has been coordinated with the political leadership.
On September 16th, 2020, during a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Shoigu, current Belarusian leader reiterated his proposal to expand military cooperation with Russia disregarding the opinion of third parties. He also referred to a Putin's alleged promise to assist him in obtaining some armament. The last statement was immediately disavowed by the Kremlin: current Russian and Belarusian leaders did not discuss the supplies of Russian arms to Belarus.
On September 17th, 2020, the current Belarusian leader accused politicians from Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine of striving to unleash a regional war.
Faced with a domestic political crisis amid threats of international isolation and stingy support from Russia, the Belarusian strongman is speculating on regional security issues to force the West and Ukraine to a dialogue on terms acceptable for Minsk. The Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the military rhetoric and send proposals for a dialogue to Brussels and Washington through unofficial channels. Meanwhile, despite Minsk’s relentlessly bellicose statements, Belarus is not ready for unilateral forceful actions against her neighbours. Moreover, the Kremlin does not approve such statements, let alone actions.