October 9 – October 15, 2023
Belarus-West relations

The regime continues to integrate into the anti-Western Russia-Iran axis

The situation has not changed
The regime continues to integrate into the anti-Western Russia-Iran axis

Against the background of a new conflict in the Middle East between Israel and the Hamas group, which is supported by Iran, the Belarusian regime is intensifying cooperation with Tehran. This is happening despite the risks of an escalation of the war to the regional level with the prospect of direct confrontation between Iran and Israel. Thus, the regime is banking on further integration into the Russian-Iranian anti-Western axis. And a new war in the Middle East, according to Minsk and the Kremlin, should distract the West from the war with Ukraine.

Last week a meeting of the mixed commission on economic cooperation was held in Tehran. The Belarusian delegation was headed by Industry Minister Alexander Rahozhnik, and the Iranian delegation by First Vice-President Mohammad Mokhber. The agenda includes trade and economic, industrial, investment, banking, petrochemical cooperation, issues in the fields of healthcare and pharmaceuticals, transport, and air travel. The agreements reached were consolidated by a protocol that will be implemented as part of the roadmap for comprehensive cooperation.

The Belarusian delegation included representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Health, as well as Belneftekhim and businessmen. In addition, meetings of the mixed working group on oil cooperation and the joint committee on international road transport are planned. A Belarusian-Iranian business forum will also take place, organized by the domestic Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Iran and Belarus are also negotiating within working groups to ease logistics and customs issues. A free trade agreement between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union will certainly solve trade and customs and tariff problems between countries and facilitate trade. Considering that Belarus is landlocked, strengthening the North-South corridor with a trans-Caspian route contributes to the development of trade between the countries. Cooperation in the field of oil and petrochemicals is also on the agenda.

The First Vice President of Iran Mohammad Mokhber will arrive in Minsk in the near future. This will be preparation for the visit of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to Belarus, which is planned for 2024.

During his March visit to Iran, Lukashenka met with Mokhber and agreed that the politician would visit Belarus and analyze the implementation of agreements in the economy. In particular, during the visit, a comprehensive cooperation plan for 2023-2026 was signed.

However, it is known that it was Mokhber who, on October 6, 2022, agreed in Moscow on a deal to supply Iran with Iranian weapons to Russia. The talk was about surface-to-surface missiles and additional batches of attack drones.

Therefore, it is obvious: that negotiations with Mokhber will not be limited to economic issues. The parties pay special attention to both security and military-technical cooperation. After Lukashenka, Defense Minister Viktar Khrenin headed to Tehran. The Belarusian State Committee for Military Industry has even identified some “promising projects” jointly with Iran. Probably, we are talking about establishing the production of Iranian kamikaze drones and ballistic missiles in Belarus for the needs of Russia.

Be that as it may, despite the risks of escalating the conflict between Israel and Hamas to the regional level with the involvement of Iran and other players, the Belarusian regime has decided on its bet. Russia is making the same bet, interested in a new war to distract the world community from the fighting in Ukraine and reduce the volume of US military assistance to Kyiv.

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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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