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Alexander Lukashenko’s “neutrality” or “multi-vector” policy: what actually is it?

“Neutrality” is going to be the foreign political priority of Belarus in the years to come. The key achievement of the Belarusian leadership will be proclaimed: Minsk has not let to be involved in the growing global conflict and enjoys equally normal relations with all regional and global centers.

During his last election campaign, President Alexander Lukashenko did not promise his people better life but focused on peace and stability in Belarus contrary to its neighbors. Once the conflict in Donbass broke up, he appeared as a “peacemaker” and offered his capital, Minsk, as a venue for peace talks. As a result, he managed to turn the stability and peacemaking into his political capital in the form of improved relations with the West that froze sanctions against the republic practically stating that it no longer has accusations against Lukashenko. So, he will naturally continue his “equidistance” and “integration of integrations” policies – even though they both look absurd in the light of growing confrontation between Russia and the West.

For Russia, the key political and military ally of Belarus, these policies have resulted in an absolutely unacceptable response to the last incident in Syria - when the Belorussian Foreign Ministry was just “sorry” for the destroyed Russian plane and made no big difference between “brotherly Russia” and “friendly Turkey” – as well as in the refusal to host a Russian air base.

On top of this, though being a mediator in the Ukrainian conflict, Lukashenko openly supports the Ukrainian party. He was among the first who recognized the Ukrainian junta and called Oleksandr Turchynov “President” and is actively supplying the Ukrainians with fuel and arms. At some moment, Russia realized it was necessary to cease supply of diesel fuel to Ukraine, and since this fall Belarus has been the only supplier of oil products (being produced from the Russian oil) to Ukraine. Besides, Belarus has been actively repairing and renovating Ukrainian military equipment, including warplanes and military helicopters (1).

This is not all: according to Russian expert Yevgeny Satanovsky, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are supplying Middle East terrorists with arms bought from Belarus (2). So, we are witnessing a situation when a man-portable SAM weapon may shoot down a Russian helicopter in Syria, while Ukrainian planes and tanks repaired by Belorussian engineers may start bombarding Donbass.

So, under such circumstances, even the most ardent supporters of Lukashenko in Russia can hardly call this policy a policy of an ally - or at least “neutral.”

Vladimir Zotov, editor of EADaily’s Western Bureau

Notes:

1) http://www.ritmeurasia.org/news--2015−12−02--toplivo-iz-rossii-popadaet-v-baki-ukrainskih-tankov.-blagodarja-belorusskomu-tranzitu-20 760 (in Russian)

2) http://vpk-news.ru/articles/28 275 (in Russian)

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