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Aliaksandr Lukashenko and War

On 27 April, the Belarusian state television OHT broadcasted a two-part documentary “Killing Aliaksandr Lukashenko”, based on the material provided by the KGB.

The film tells the story of a group of “conspirators”, including Internet blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky, who has already been sentenced to long years in prison, and a businessman and political dissident Mikalay Autukhovich, whose ordinary trial began on May 18.

According to the version of the security forces, the “miscreants” were preparing to act in stages: remove the Belarusian dictator and his family, neutralize mobile power structures, occupy the most important state buildings in Minsk and announce a change of power in Belarus. The “Bloody Final” was supposed to hit the country in June or July 2021.

The authors of the film also informed about the basement in which the “conspirators” were preparing to put Aliaksandr Lukashenko’s family. For that purpose, they were looking for a farm, a truck and an excavator in the Gomel region near the border with Russia, which was supposed to dig out that basement.

According to the assessment of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which was announced on April 18 last year in the Vesti Nedeli program of the Russian TV channel Rossia-1, a forced change of power is planned for 9 May 2021, when the Victory Day parade will take place in Minsk.

Already on 31 July, the report published on the website of the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom (UK) stated that Aliaksandr Lukashenko’s statement on July 21 about the need for Kiev to accept demands of Moscow indicates the almost complete dependence of the Belarusian dictator on Vladimir Putin.

Talking on the subject – according to the military experts, on 28 July (from 5:20 to 6:30 AM) Russia launched at least 20 missiles from the territory of Belarus to the side of Ukraine.

Before that, on 13 July, observers recorded activation of the Russian military transport planes at the military airports of Belarus. More Russian S-400 Zenith missile systems and camouflaged tanks and armoured war machines were noticed in one of them.

On 4 August the Armed Forces of Ukraine informed about the beginning of the inspection of the combat readiness of Belarusian special operations units stationed on the border of Belarus and Ukraine.

The British report also stated that the regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenko is becoming more authoritarian in the circumstances of the war in Ukraine. The thesis is based on the facts that amendments to the Criminal Code regarding the application of the death penalty and punishment for preparing terrorist acts have been approved in Belarus.

The fact that the regime becomes even more brutal in wartime conditions (although, it would seem, where else?) is evidenced by the verdict of the Brest court on 29 July that sentenced Aliaksandr Zadai, a student of the Belarusian State Aviation Academy, to two years and six months in prison for, according to the prosecutors’ version, systematic transmission of information about the movement of aviation equipment in Baranovichi for an Internet resource that the Belarusian power structures have recognized as extremist.

This is not the first case of a similar nature in Belarus – in April, the country’s investigative committee filed seven criminal cases “on the same topic” in the Gomel region alone.

Advisor to Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Franak Viačorka to the question of Currenttime.tv about the fate of Roman Protasevich, the former editor-in-chief of the portals Nexta and Brain Belarus, who was caught by the regime’s treachery when the Belarusian special services forced a Ryanair passenger liner to land in Minsk on 23 May 2021, to land in Minsk, answered that the ex-opposition’s collaboration with the regime has landed a lot of people in jail in the current Belarus.

His former friend and colleague at Nexta Jan Rudik, in an interview with the portal nashaniva.com, recognized as extremist in his homeland, stated on 14 July that Roman Protasevich testimony and access to his mobile phone allowed the Belarusian special services to arrest those who communicated with him and organized protest actions.

According to Franak Viačorka, Aliaksandr Lukashenko is keeping the former editor of Nexta on a short leash, for example by forcing him to cooperate with a simulacrum of a local human rights organization that “scolds” the West for violations of human rights. Basically, the person was forced to collaborate by forcing him to say what he was told to say.

Aliaksandr Lukashenko himself “clarified” in an interview with the news agency France-Presse on 21 July that Belarus does not wage war in Ukraine with its own equipment and manpower, so it does not kill people, it just treats and provides medication to the victims both in Ukraine and in Russia.

However, he admitted that “for preventive purposes, military objects in Ukraine” are being struck from the territory of his country.

The dictator indicated that he supported Moscow when it overtook the West – it is said that if Russia had “missed out”, NATO troops would have attacked it already from Ukraine. And now it is said that it is not Ukraine that is at war, but the West, which is why they are even bigger aggressors than he, Aliaksandr Lukashenko.

I should remind that on 10 June Aliaksandr Lukashenko “did not rule out” that the Belarusian military might have to fight for Western Ukraine, so that it would not be “whistled” by the West, which would not stand up to anyone. Then he concluded in a secretive way: “Terrible processes are going on all around.”

On 28 June State Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus Aleksandr Volfovich, told undoubtedly with the sanction of his patron: “Today, our Ukrainian neighbours are also trying to build a barrier against Belarus, unfortunately. Although Belarus poses no threat to anyone.”

On 2 July, on the eve of the Independence Day of Belarus, Aliaksandr Lukashenko threatened Ukraine with retaliation if it attacked his country. Indeed, Ukrainians only think about this, they have nothing else to do. Such are the twists of thought.

In an interview with the French agency, the Belarusian dictator also stated that Minsk can recognize the separatist “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk, if it “makes sense”. For now, the “recognition” of Donetsk, Luhansk or Crimea will not do any favour, Belarus cooperates and will cooperate with these regions separated from Ukraine by Moscow anyway.

The last passage can be considered a sign of the already usual gyration of the Belarusian dictator in his relations with the master of the Kremlin.

On 25 June Aliaksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin, who met for the sixth time since the beginning of the year in St. Petersburg, also talked about the need to use a serious weapon for the defence of the homeland from Brest to Vladivostok (Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s formulation was called to rhetorically “overcome” the host in Moscow, but no more).

The Belarusian dictator complained that the training flights of NATO planes capable of carrying nuclear weapons, the aggressive foreign policy of neighbours Lithuania and Poland (which they are sending on Belarus), especially on the issue of Ukraine, are very stressful, so Moscow must help prepare a “mirror response”. Allegedly, in 1941, everyone was urging they would not attack Belarus.

Maybe his “committed” colleague Vladimir Putin promised Belarus operational-tactical missile complexes Iskander-M in the foreseeable future.

On the other hand (on the subject of gyrations), Aliaksandr Lukashenko lives in such a context as well. Ukraine’s anti-disinformation centre has stated that Russian propagandists are spreading disinformation about the growing probability that the Belarusian army will attack Ukraine.

For this, such narrative fragments as “the missile attack will begin at 4.00” (with a reference to an allegedly anonymous source in the Armed Forces of Ukraine), “A man from the command said that they will precisely attack this Saturday ” are used for this purpose. And so on.

The Belarusian dictator has to “manoeuvre” in relations with Moscow in this sense as well, to avoid real participation of Belarusian soldiers in aggression. Although, according to the Editor-in-chief of the website Charter-97 Natalya Radina, he probably wants to “participate”, which is indicated, for example, by Aliaksandr Lukashenko’s call to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine and the West.

Or the direct threats to Poland by the deputy chief of the general staff of the Belarusian army, who speaks necessarily with the sanction of the host, that decision-making centres in this country will be hit.

Belarusian political scientist, Head of the Warsaw-based Centre for Analysis and Political Forecast Pavel Usov, agrees that the threat of Belarus entering the war will probably remain until Ukraine’s victory in it.

By the way, Minsk is obliged to do so by the union state agreement signed by Russia and Belarus, which also includes the option that in the event of an attack by one party, a party to the agreement, must necessarily come to its aid.

“Life Practices” was marked by aggressive rhetoric at least in July. For example, on 3 July, Aliaksandr Lukashenko stated that the armed forces shot down missiles launched from Ukraine at civilian objects in his country.

Maybe this is an attempt to “process” and mobilize the population of Belarus, 85 percent of whom oppose their country’s involvement in the war?

According to Pavel Usov, Aliaksandr Lukashenko is nevertheless in a difficult position, he is forced to “scrutinize, stretch the rubber” as much as possible.

90% of the Belarusian army consists of conscripts who may be able to clean the barracks yard and mop the floor, but not to fight. When the conscripts are sent to Ukraine, galvanized coffins will start returning very quickly, the conscripts will be crippled or start to simply desert, without even going ten kilometres deep into Ukraine.

Ukrainian military analyst Kiril Sazonov suggests not to lose sight of the fact that there are many Russians in the Belarusian army, and there are some who claim that even 80% of them are there. How they will behave in the specific field of “Slavic internal war” – nobody knows.

Although Aliaksandr Lukashenko likes to flaunt his military commander-in-chief’s uniform, his regime’s priority has always been interior ministry units and special forces. The reasons are that they are much cheaper than units with heavy military equipment, and special forces can help quell demonstrations.

Aliaksandr Lukashenko consistently reduced the army, considering its expenses as pointless and pragmatically relying on the alliance with Russia and the defensive capabilities of its “nuclear umbrella”.

The absolute majority of officers are pro-Russian primarily because they have graduated from the Russian higher military schools. The Belarusian military elite not only studied in Russia, but also maintain close personal ties with their Russian counterparts.

But the Belarusian military elite maintained close personal ties with their Ukrainian counterparts over the years. So, what’s next?

According to Kiril Sazonov, the Belarusian army is afraid of “getting involved”, so if it decides to participate, first a massive missile attack would be carried out, and only then the Belarusian soldiers would enter the scorched earth to conquer at least three regions of Ukraine. That’s what the theory looks like.

In practice, it seems there is an agreement between Moscow and Minsk that Vladimir Putin will “take” Donbas, then move towards Kiev, when Aliaksandr Lukashenko “enters” Ukraine from his side.

But Vladimir Putin is already stuck in Donbas. And the Minsk dictator was left to lurk anxiously, encouraging himself only with “resolute” statements.

Arūnas Spraunius

 

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