The Belarusian regime seeks to preserve critical communication channels with the West
Despite the bellicose rhetoric and provocative actions, the Belarusian regime is not ready for a complete break with the West and seeks to maintain covert communication on security issues.
On August 9th, Aliaksandr Lukashenka hosted a “Big Conversation” with foreign media representatives, propagandists and representatives of loyalist circles. During the event, several statements related to regional security were made as Lukashenka tried to link his removal from power and the threat of a new world war. He stated that dialogue between Minsk and Vilnius had terminated, but communication channels regarding security matters with Poland and the United States remained. The USA is apparently concerned with the non-proliferation of nuclear materials. Lukashenka did not give any detail regarding contacts with Warsaw, but before the event, activists of the Polish national minority of Belarus arrested by the Belarusian regime were released, allegedly due to agreements between the special services of the two countries.
Lukashenka also reiterated that there is no need to expand the Russian military presence in Belarus and that this is also the position of the Kremlin. The publication on August 13th of a cooperation agreement between the KGB of Belarus and the State Security Service of Georgia, providing a wide range of tools for cooperation, came at a peculiar time. Tbilisi pursues a consistent integration policy into the Euro-Atlantic community and deepening security cooperation with the EU, NATO and the United States. However, the agreement was concluded in a different era (August 2016), so the delay in publication is likely because the parties had to carry out domestic preparations before the entry into force of the agreement.
The conclusion is that, despite the bellicose rhetoric, the Belarusian regime seeks to preserve both existing channels of communication with the West and forge new ones, even if indirectly, where security issues are concerned. This is a continuation of Minsk’s long-standing “security arbitrage” tactic, where the Belarusian side seeks to trade a constructive position in the security arena for concessions in other, mostly unrelated, areas.
It should be understood that there is no dialogue in the current situation, merely the preservation of an emergency line of communication to solve specific issues, theoretically avoiding an uncontrollable security crisis, but absolutely not enough to improve the situation. The latter being no longer possible without a fundamental transformation of power in Belarus.