Belarusian shadow government defined their strategy
On June 1, the Organising Committee of the National Revival Rada published a memorandum on their goals and aims of their activities. The members of Rada are several former officers of law enforcement agencies.
The initiative to establish a government in exile acquires more meaning and is becoming more organised. The project is launched under conditions when there is no political support inside and outside Belarus.
An important achievement in the process of creation of a shadow government was statutory meetings held in April-May 2012. According to Vladzimir Baradach, approximately thirty people took part in the meetings, mostly they were the Belarusian refugees who used to work in law enforcement agencies.
A next step was to prepare and publish a memorandum. The fact that the memorandum was introduced to general public without gaining support from influential politicians indicates that the initiators of the project set to lower ambitions.
Despite the negotiations with several opposition leaders and movements, none of the politicians has openly agreed to join the initiative. It therefore signals that the project lacks a “face” not only in terms of a recognisable political leader, but also “arms and legs” in terms of even minimal mobility of human resources.
The memorandum gives traditional evaluation of Belarusian reality: Lukashenko’s regime is illegitimate and needs to be changed; there is a need for economic reforms etc. Also, the authors of the document suggest challenging the legitimacy of the decisions taken by the Belarusian authorities and carry out re-privatization of Belarus’ assets in the interests of the Belarusian people.
The latter objective is quite relevant, especially with regard to an ongoing privatization in Belarus. For example, after Belarus had sold a 50% stake in Beltransgas to Gasprom in November 2011, it was repeatedly stated in the media that the transaction costs were reduced. It contradicts the rule of law; therefore the transaction can be revised. It is clear that to do so, Lukashenko’s regime should be significantly weaker, which is not yet the case.
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.