April 3 – April 9, 2023
Security issues

Spy Games

The situation got worse
Spy Games

Via French military intelligence, the West once again attempted to convince the Belarusian regime not to expand its participation in the war against Ukraine. In response, Lukashenka commenced a new round of escalation and agreed to deploy Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus. Russian intelligence is intensifying exchanges with Belarusian counterparts, preparing the ground for the joint Regional Group of Force’s entry into the conflict with Ukraine. 

On March 24th, a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement regarding the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) in Belarus, the head of the Main Directorate of External Security of the Ministry of Defense of France (DGSE), Bernard Emié, flew to Minsk to convince Lukashenka not to get more deeply involved in the war in Ukraine. Negotiations were brief and did not bring the desired results. 

This is not the West’s first attempt to influence Lukashenka’s position in the war. When the Russian invasion began, French intelligence conducted an operation (code-named “Alicia”) involving negotiations between Minsk and Kyiv, with the mediation of French President Emmanuel Macron, intended to avert the possible participation of the Belarusian army. 

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Hungarian Minister of Trade and Foreign Affairs, Peter Szijjártó visited Minsk with a similar agenda in February. 

Lukashenka responded to these overtures with a new round of escalation, declaring his ”resolute intentions to “return” tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus and his willingness to deploy Russian strategic nuclear weapons. 

Lukashenka then met with the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service director, Sergei Naryshkin, after which he noted that mainly due to Russian technical assistance, intelligence cooperation between Minsk and Moscow has improved. KGB Chairman, Ivan Tertel, provided some specific examples while predicting a severe escalation of the regional situation and the intensification of terrorist activities on Belarusian territory. The Russian Foreign Ministry has made such predictions, alleging the possibility of sabotage groups transferring to Belarus from Ukraine and neighbouring NATO countries. 

Consultations between the KGB and the Foreign intelligence Services of the Russian Federation resulted in a joint statement that “the true cause of the unprecedented Western pressure on Belarus and Russia is not the Ukrainian crisis, but the US desire for unlimited world domination. In this situation, the Belarusian and Russian special services bear increased responsibility for the timely disclosure of hostile plans of the West, [and] strengthening the defence, industrial and technological potential of the two countries.” 

Meanwhile, it seems that Russian and Belarusian intelligence services are preparing an exchange of detained spies with the West. The KGB recently reported the detention of Polish and Baltic States citizens engaged in “secret operations” and dozens of Ukrainians involved in intelligence and subversive espionage activities and planning terrorist acts. In many ways, these statements mirror reports from Poland of the neutralisation of a spy network consisting of Ukrainians and Belarusians working for the special services of Russia and Belarus. According to Lukashenka, Poland has already requested such an exchange, as has Ukraine. 

The outcome of such cases will depend on the reaction of Ukrainian and Western special services to KGB allegations about hosting training camps for sabotage and reconnaissance groups and planning terrorist acts. However, given the Belarusian regime’s “nuclear blackmail”, an exchange of spies is unlikely to de-escalate the general tension in relations with Ukraine and the West. 

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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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