January 10 – January 16, 2022
Belarus-Russia relations

“Security Donor”: in a different region and a different context

The situation got worse
“Security Donor”: in a different region and a different context

The protests and state of emergency in Kazakhstan, followed by the intervention of the CSTO, temporarily deprived the Belarusian-Russian axis of centre stage. The leaders of the CSTO countries generally endorsed the official position of Astana that the primary cause of the crisis was an externally inspired terrorist attack.

This point of view was shared on January 10th by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during an urgent CSTO planning meeting. Russian leader Vladimir Putin concurred with his colleague, mentioning “Maidan technologies” and “destructive internal and external forces,” which Alexander Lukashenka also speculated about – with his own, specific accents. Details regarding these “external forces” were not given, allowing interested parties to create their own narratives.

In Minsk, the extraordinary events in Kazakhstan seem to have generated some excitement, primarily because it is a distraction from the crisis in Belarus itself and the vicious circle of its relations with Russia. The situation also provides a pretext for the postponement of integration programs. It might even enable Belarus to return to role-playing as a “regional security donor”, albeit in a slightly different region and a completely different context.

Lukashenka was conspicuously active, demonstrating his civilised and geopolitical erudition. He was emphatic that “[we must] preserve the centre of our civilisation, the centre of our Orthodoxy” (that is, Russia from the aggression of the “collective West”) and do everything to “return Ukraine into the fold of our true faith” (which one – he did not explain). These concerns are somehow a continuance from the events in Kazakhstan, which is, of course, a Muslim majority country.

Responding for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov displayed noticeable irritation, stating that “this is a topic between Minsk and Tashkent. In this perspective, we do not take part in these conversations.”

Of course, Minsk lacks not only the resources to assume a leadership role in the field of regional security but also formal powers. At the very moment when the CSTO, for the first time in its history, decides to introduce a peacekeeping contingent, the Chair is held by Armenia.

All this, of course, showed that the ODBK is not a paper tiger and “infuriated” the West (according to E. Yertysbayeva, ex-adviser to Nazarbayeva). It also demonstrated that post-Soviet elites are less inclined to negotiate with their own people and prefer to collude with “external forces”. The same authoritarian regimes are incessantly dipping their hands into the icy waters of crisis and uncertainty.

The events in Kazakhstan are also instructive for Belarus itself, in the sense that the so-called “Constitutional reform” (political transition on manual control) does not guarantee subsequent stability. Still, until recently, Kazakhstan seemed to be the most stable state of all the CSTO and EAEU member countries.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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