An incident at the “Belaruskaliy”
An intergovernmental commission Headed by First Vice-Premier Vladimir Semashko was established in Belarus to eliminate the threat of flooding of one of the mining sites at “Belaruskaliy”.
In late June 2011 “Belaruskaliy” suffered from the flooding of the mine pits of the 2nd pit-management by brine contained in the rock. Following the incident the company built a temporary waterproofing bridge and started maintenance works. At the time being the officials reported the brine inflow has declined. On 28 July journalists from the state-owned media were allowed to report from the mine pits to prove that engineers had full control over the situation.
Regardless of the official optimism, independent experts say there was still a possibility of complete flooding of the mine. The incident, the scope and consequences of which are carefully hidden, implies that the market value of the company will go down, as well as interest of potential investors. At the same time, the government seriously expects to sell 20-50% stakes of the company at $ 30 billion. Uncertainty with the emergency situation at the “Belaruskaliy” finally takes off the agenda the issue of selling of its shares at least until the end of 2011.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.