Lukashenko reminded of himself in CIS information space
The main goal of Lukashenko’s speech was to produce a positive information impact in the mass media of the CIS countries, which will be chaired by Belarus from 2013. It is also likely that Lukashenko had as a separate goal to determine the scheduled for the following day address of Russian President Putin to the Federal Assembly.
On 11 December, Aleksander Lukashenko met with the members of the Club of editors-in-chief of the CIS media, the Baltic States and Georgia. The event took place in the framework of the 7th annual European and Asian Media Forum which took place in Minsk on 10-12 December.
The genre of the event-answers to the questions - predetermined also the nature of Lukashenko’s address. As far as the content is concerned, it turned out to be eclectic. Therefore, it should be assumed that the main purpose of this meeting was to create a PR effect in the broad information space of the CIS. Besides, President Lukashenko probably wished to get to this information field a day before President of the Russian Federation Putin, who on 12 December delivered his annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow.
In particular, Lukashenko in his responses separately underlined that he sees at the basis of his policy the strengthening of the morality and spirituality in the society, and he said that he wished to build socialism in Belarus along the example of France. On the following day President Putin expressed very similar ideas in his address about the social state and the role of values in the development of the society.
From the statements made by Lukashenko, the support of Kazakhstan on the issue of the formation of a single Euro-Asian Parliament presents the greatest interest: Lukashenko spoke against the creation of this body and demonstrated that Minsk could agree with Astana and together ignore the political interest of Moscow. Thus, the political initiative of Russia to create an Euro-Asian Parliament will be frozen for an indefinite time.
Lukashenko neither gave any reason for speculations about an early resolution of the conflict with the EU and the U.S. The President accused the West of applying the double standards, of an attempt to change in Belarus the constitutional order and to conduct the privatization of the state property in the interest of their business. Finally, Lukashenko once again rejected the suspicion of preparing a successor and made it clear that he would not leave his post.
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.