Minsk tries to get off the Russian escalation train
The Belarusian regime is making cautious attempts to return to the favourite (and previously financially profitable) tactic of “trading” security. That’s just the “market” for this product is no longer there. As well as trust in the good faith of the “seller”.
On December 16, the representative of the Ministry of Defence of Belarus at the OSCE event confirmed Minsk’s commitment to the implementation of international obligations in the field of arms control; expressed regret over the refusal of several states to hold working meetings with Belarusian representatives in accordance with bilateral agreements on confidence and security in the face of growing tension in the region; and called for continued interaction between defence ministries on arms control issues despite the evolving political and epidemiological situation.
On December 17, a representative of the Belarusian Defence Ministry held several meetings with military attachés of NATO states. The main topic was the situation on the borders of Belarus. At the same time, the neighbouring countries of the Alliance were classified as the “belt of good-neighbourliness”, despite the fact that, according to the Belarusian military official they take an unconstructive attitude and refuse dialogue. The Polish side was invited to hold cross-border negotiations between the military departments of the parties and take steps to restore confidence-building and security measures. This should not only relieve tension in relations but mark the beginning of constructive dialogue and the establishment of relations.
The problem for the Belarusian side is that the time for an attempt to reconcile with neighbours was chosen unsuccessfully, and the political background is negative:
- politically, the Belarusian regime is “unshakable” and Warsaw has made a political commitment to contribute to the democratic transformation of Belarus
- there is no credibility to the conciliatory speeches from Minsk after the bellicose statements addressed to Poland and Ukraine in previous months, including statements about readiness to participate in new aggression against Ukraine and the identification of neighbouring countries as enemies personally by Lukashenka
- there is a consensus in the West that the Belarusian regime is a proxy/puppet of the Kremlin and all initiatives from Minsk are perceived as Russian intrigue
- Russia’s demands to limit the activity of NATO and the United States in Europe are perceived as blackmail, which does not contribute to confidence in the proposals of a formal ally of the Kremlin.
The active promotion of stories from the Polish deserter by Belarusian propaganda does not contribute to the beginning of a dialogue between the Polish and Belarusian military departments.
Obviously, official Minsk is trying to take advantage of the situation of the threat of armed confrontation in the region to expand its own field of foreign policy manoeuvres and repeating the success story of 2014. However, at present, there are no prerequisites for the resumption of “security trade” of the Belarusian regime with the West. The expectation that a change of rhetoric will restore confidence on the part of neighbouring NATO countries and Ukraine is at least naïve. Even to start a dialogue on regional security, Minsk will need serious political steps, which is beyond the competence of the military department.
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Situation in Belarus