Attack on the reputation of President Lukashenko

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April 22, 2016 18:15

Russo-Belarusian relations remain turbulent. Both parties are interested in mutual concessions and use different tools to put pressure on each other.

On July 25th Russian Olympic Committee Head Alexander Zhukov outraged in his Tweeter the denial of accreditation for the XXX Olympic Games in London for President Lukashenko. Later this information was confirmed by the British Embassy in Minsk.

The obvious implication of the ‘outrage’ by the Russian Olympic Committee Chairman was to draw attention to the EU visa sanctions against Belarusian leadership. Rapid reaction from the British Foreign Office and silence of the Belarusian government implies that it could be a planned action in order to exert pressure on Minsk.

In turn, the Belarusian authorities were not interested in attracting additional attention to the status of President Lukashenko as persona non-grata. Earlier, the Belarusian President attempted to accredit for the Olympic Games however was denied via informal channels. Therefore, on July 12th, during the opening of the ‘Slavic Bazar’ music festival in Vitebsk Lukashenko regretfully called the Olympic Games a politicized event.

Therefore, it is likely that the Twitter intercession by Mr. Zhukov meant to put additional pressure on the Belarusian authorities, which hold complicated negotiations with Russia on a number of issues, the main and the most controversial of which is the privatization of Belarusian enterprises.

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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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