August 21 – August 27, 2017

Minsk will continue security ‘trade’ during “West-2017” drill

The situation has not changed
Minsk will continue security ‘trade’ during “West-2017” drill

Minsk trading security with the West is an established trend. Last but not least, because the Belarusian authorities have no other “commodity” for sale. The ‘West-2017” Russo-Belarusian military drill is likely to be used in such a bargaining.

Over the past week, Belarus’ neighbours expressed concern due to the forthcoming Belarusian-Russian military drill. On August 22nd, 2017, Polish Deputy Defence Minister Michal Dworczyk voiced suspicions that more forces and means than stated by Minsk would be used in the drill. Earlier, Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak said that the “West-2017” drill posed a security threat to his country. Lithuania expressed concerns that due to the “West-2017”, the Russian military presence in Belarus would expand and Russian troops would not be withdrawn from Belarus.

Meanwhile, the Belarusian authorities have demonstrated the awareness of their responsibility in the light of the security crisis in the region. Through international fora, Belarus is providing up to date information about the upcoming military drill with Russia to all interested parties. She has invited observers from European countries and international organizations, and announced the intention to promptly inform about the course of the drill.

The Belarusian authorities aim to use the “West-2017” military drill to demonstrate their transparency, good will and readiness to meet the expectations of Western countries and Ukraine, to some limits, however. The boundaries would depend on what the neighbouring states and the West could offer to Minsk. Simultaneously, it should be understood that, given the importance of regional security issues to Russia, Minsk’s flexibility would not be unlimited. Once there would come a point when demands and expectations of the West and Ukraine exceeded Belarus’ capabilities. This means, that security issues cannot (and would not be) the only agenda item in Belarus’ relations with the West. The Belarusian authorities need to expand the topics for a dialogue with the European Union and the United States.

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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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