Military industrial complex outlook as a bridge between Russia and Belarus
Enhanced cooperation with Russia in the military sphere reinforces a safety cushion for a number of Belarusian companies by enabling them to take part in state procurement orders. Simultaneously, the cooperation programme’s ambiguity will push Belarus to seek additional funding opportunities, not necessarily in Russia.
In Minsk on October 23rd, Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin signed an action plan to intensify cooperation between the defense industrial complexes of the two countries for 2012-2015.
The signed document is a framework agreement, but the tone of statements by vice premier Rogozin implied that Russia has not abandoned attempts to acquire some Belarusian industrial assets. In particular, during the visit, two companies were named: “Integral” (computer technology) and MAZ (engineering), however the details and additional conditions for cooperation between these companies have not been disclosed. It is a known fact, that talks about MAZ and KAMAZ merger are ongoing.
In turn, Belarusian Prime Minister Myasnikovich expressed a desire to eliminate all restrictions still in force for a number of Belarusian industries within the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. It should be noted that this request is not in Rogozin’s competence: he is in charge of the military-industrial complex and military-technical cooperation.
Thus, the political outcome of Rogozin’s visit to Minsk was the shaping of yet another link between Minsk and Moscow, in the security sphere and military-technical cooperation. However, the failure to address specific issues, i.e. the volume of financial support or compensation to the Belarusian defense industry and corresponding industrial enterprises – is most likely to cause Minsk to look for additional support. Therefore it is still possible that cooperation with the West will be enhanced, if Russia does not offer Belarus a profitable continuation of the project in question.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.