The Belarusian regime seeks to diversify conflict with the West
Minsk continues to attempt to involve allies in its solo confrontation with the West.
On August 23rd, during a CSTO summit on the Afghan situation following the fall of the US-backed government, Lukashenka tried to link his own confrontation with Western states (including the attempt to pressure Poland, Lithuania and Latvia by provoking a migration crisis) with the broader security context of the CSTO countries. Lukashenka joined Vladimir Putin’s traditional calls for solidarity in deterring a permanent American/Western military presence in Central Asia and repeated his allegation that NATO is trying to attack Russia through Belarus. Later the same day, Lukashenka returned to the subject during a bilateral telephone conversation with the Russian president, drawing parallels between the situation at the Belarusian and Afghan borders.
The attempt to link the Afghan crisis and the confrontation between the Belarusian regime and Western countries is absolutely artificial. Lukashenka is again trying to present his personal conflict with the EU and the United States as part of a subversive global conspiracy of Western countries against Russia. Obviously, Minsk would like to elicit from the Kremlin more tangible support than inconsistent propaganda statements.
The likelihood of Moscow becoming entangled in the confrontation between the Belarusian regime with the civilised world is small. The peak of the Russian leadership’s readiness for conflict with the West has passed. We can expect some symbolic action by Russia to ensure that Belarus is securely included in the sphere of Russian influence, but little more. The Kremlin has clear goals regarding the Belarusian crisis, and no indication that preserving the existing political regime is a priority.