Putin will arrive in Minsk as the liberator of Belarusian people from Lukashenko’s regime13.08.2021
When Aleksandr Lukashenko once again did everything to turn the presidential election into a farce and illegally declared himself the head of state, a lot of people – due to the ongoing wide protests – believed that it will not last long.
I must admit, I had the same thought. However, Lukashenko with the aid of Vladimir Putin was able to hold on to power, including by ruthlessly suppressing peaceful protesters.
At some point it seemed that Lukashenko is a problem only for Belarusians – how can someone like Lukashenko affect anyone else? But everyone was wrong.
Lukashenko initially did everything to suppress all protests. This included restricting the already non-existent freedom of speech, as well as closing – or at least scaring into submission – disloyal media outlets and organizations.
What followed next was nothing anyone could have imagined. No one expected that Lukashenko would dare to employ fighters to force a Ryanair airplane heading from Athens to Vilnius to land in Minsk in order to detain founder of the Telegram channel Nexta Roman Protasevich.
What did Lukashenko achieve by this?
First, it sent a clear message to the Belarusian people that Lukashenko is all-powerful and can do whatever he wants, and that his long arms will reach every protest leader, even if they are not on Belarusian soil. The second and more dangerous message was that Lukashenko doesn’t care about his image in the West and that he is willing to take Belarus further along the rode that will make it an outcast country. This will, of course, lead to closer relations with the Kremlin.1
However, Belarus’ relations with the Kremlin were close already before the hijacking of the plane (because that’s what happened). In spring, both countries’ minsters of defense in Moscow discussed the strategic partnership program for 2021-2025 and concluded that three training centers for joint military training must be established in Grodno Oblast in Belarus and in Nizhniy Novgorod and Kaliningrad oblasts in Russia.
Belarus is also holding a combat readiness assessment in its Armed Forces.
According to the plan, the number of soldiers who will soon receive weapons, ammunition and designated tasks is being increased (partial mobilization). Additionally, signal troops are engaged in special tactical training. All this is part of a plan to prepare Russian and Belarusian armed forces for the joint strategic exercises Zapad-2021.2
We must look at the activities in Belarus in conjunction with Russia’s plans. Russian media reported that by the end of the year the Western Military District will be supplemented with 20 new army formations armed with 2,000 pieces of military equipment. It wasn’t specified whether these will be tanks, armored vehicles, cannons, etc.
The current Western Military District’s units are already receiving an increased amount of combat tasks – 30% increase in the Baltic Fleet with 4% increased flight intensity for the military district’s aviation.3 Lukashenko had previously announced the redeployment of Belarusian units in the western direction. This means that both Russia and Belarus have increased the number of troops near their borders.
It’s difficult to believe this is just a coincidence.
Why is Lukashenko now marching alongside Putin, if previously he didn’t agree with increasing the number of Russian military bases in Belarus? The answer is simple – Lukashenko knows that his finest hour has passed and that he must hold on to power as long as he can. And this can only be done by giving in to Putin.
This also helps him achieve another goal – the Russian army creates a shield around Lukashenko, i.e. he is now free to trouble Belarus’ neighboring states. Lukashenko’s and Putin’s goals coincide in this regard, the difference is that Putin carries out his dirty deeds with the hands of Lukashenko.
We should also consider the situation in Lithuania which is being overwhelmed by a large number of migrants from Belarus. Lithuanian intelligence services have found out that the migrants are being transported from Minsk to the Lithuanian border.
One of Lukashenko’s most known opponents the exiled Pavel Latushko has stated that Minsk is launching a special operation against Lithuania and the EU.
“The operation is as follows: Iraqi and other Middle Eastern citizens are being gathered in groups in Iraq. These groups are then taken by plane to the Minsk airport, where they receive tourist visas. Afterwards, they’re put in a hotel where they wait to be transported to the Lithuanian border,” Latushko explained.
“The Belarusian State Border Committee ensures the border is open in places where it is the most unprotected from the Lithuanian side. This allows these illegal immigrants to enter Lithuania and apply for refugee status.”
Latushko expects that the next stage of the operation will see drugs and possibly even nuclear materials being smuggled into the EU.4
His prediction seems unfortunately too possible, just as the likelihood of Latvia facing similar problems on its borders as Lithuania.
It is because of these provocative activities that Lukashenko wants to increase Russia’s military presence in Belarus. The current situation also proves that Lukashenko is more actively assuming the role of a bully who, when threatened, can hide behind Russia’s back.
Meanwhile, Putin benefits from this situation, as the increased number of Russian troops in Belarus will allow him to deal with Lukashenko if necessary. And, until it becomes necessary, Lukashenko is useful to Putin because he is creating problems for the West. In other words, Putin has turned Lukashenko into his servant who can be removed at any given moment. It is also very possible that by sacrificing Lukashenko, Putin hopes Belarusian citizens will start loving him faster and stronger.
 Analītiķis: Ar lēmumu nosēdināt «Ryanair» lidmašīnu Minskā Lukašenko atraisījis rokas Maskavai / Raksts (lsm.lv)