Minsk toughens rhetoric as the West declines to engage in dialogue
Minsk is clearly aware that its attempts to engage in dialogue with the West have failed, but the imperative remains for the Belarusian regime.
The imminent expansion of Western sanctions and the G7 Leaders’ statement that they intend to hold the Belarusian regime accountable for its complicity in the aggression against Ukraine caused irritation in Minsk and response the only form available – more strident rhetoric.
Recognising the failure of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Belarusian regime hoped to repeat its tactics of 2014, providing a venue for peace talks in exchange for political and economic concessions from the West. Once this proved untenable, the calculation switched to “selling” non-participation in direct aggression against Kyiv to the West. This also failed.
So far, Minsk is reacting to Western disinterest with belligerence and full support for Russian policy, threatening Western countries with “consequences” in response to the build-up of NATO forces in neighbouring countries. However, the Belarusian regime has no capability for comparable actions, limiting its response to rhetorical exercises.
Should Belarus become directly involved in the Russo-Western confrontation, this situation may change dramatically. Depending on the Ukrainian front situation, the Kremlin may wish to expand the threat landscape with the West without direct conflict. Minsk fears the consequences of escalation, but if Russian economic and political support is predicated on Belarusian-Russian military actions, this will create new challenges for security in north-eastern Europe.
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Situation in Belarus