KGB continues manipulating using terrorism threat
On May 25th, the Belarusian KGB informed about a criminal case on terrorism charges initiated against a man who unsuccessfully tried to blow up a police station in Zhlobin.
As before, when explosions in Gomel and Kobrin occurred, the KGB sent detailed operational reports about the incident to the media and shared working leads, which was unusual until 2011. Intelligence services believe all these terrorist acts could involve criminal groups that smuggle illegal immigrants from Asian countries into the EU via Belarus. Regarding the Zhlobin incident, the KGB stated that the alleged terrorist was wearing a mask with an inscription in Arabic and the National TV Channel showed a corresponding report.
Our previous assessment should be reiterated, that such information policy of the intelligence agency and the media objectively increase the feeling of danger in the society. Most likely, that above all, it is the KGB, who is interested in such disclosure, as high risks to public safety increase this body’s importance as the country’s main anti-terrorist shield.
It should be emphasized that the number of terrorist threats has increased in the Gomel Region. A likely explanation for this phenomenon could be that regional security forces staff could thereby attempt to counteract the ongoing reform in the security agencies, particularly in the KGB. Earlier, President Lukashenko made a number of new appointments in the central offices the KGB and in Vitebsk regional KGB Department.
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.