June 14 – June 20, 2021
Security issues

Lukashenka’s apocalyptic rhetoric is not actually about national defence

The situation got worse
Lukashenka’s apocalyptic rhetoric is not actually about national defence

Lukashenka’s dramatic statements regarding imminent threats to the country are self-serving propaganda.

On June 16th, Lukashenka chaired a meeting to discuss the readiness of territorial defence systems, during which it was declared that: local authorities in the Belarusian regions should be ready to mobilise reserve troops at short notice (to repel unspecified aggressors), and preparation should be made to move the population to a war footing.

There is nothing new in this. Territorial defence strategy has hinged on the ability of regional officials to rapidly mobilise reserves since Soviet times because it was seen as necessary that the initial response to encroachment on Belarusian territory had a national character.

The spectre of external enemies, who are rarely explicitly identified, is a tried and tested tool that the Belarusian regime uses to rally popular support when it feels threatened. However, they have no intention of extending the right to bear arms to ordinary citizens and are determined to continue to rely on conscription rather than form professional, voluntary, territorial forces.

Belarusian territorial defence strategy itself is developing as planned, subject to financial realities. Plans exist to build territorial defence infrastructure up to 2030, enhance Border Guard? capabilities through 2025 and integrate Border Guard troops with regional reserve forces in case of mobilisation.

These high-profile statements by Lukashenka regarding territorial defence are purely political. They contain no added information but aim to emphasise (particularly to the state bureaucracy) that the ruler remains entirely in control of the country and events.

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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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