Belarus and Ukraine Unlikely Allies?

  • Ukraine became actively involved in the Wagner mercenaries scandal this week
  • Ukraine immediately showed support to Lukashenko.
  • Lukashenko believes that Kremlin will stage a coup to have him removed from power.

This week, a scandal pertaining to the detainment of Wagner mercenaries made international news. Belarus, and Minsk in particular, was used by Wagner as a transport hub in the period of the Coronavirus pandemic closures. This information became available to the WarGonzo project from the Russian Special Forces sources.

The Wagner Group is a Russian paramilitary organization. Some have described it as a private military company (or a private military contracting agency), whose contractors have reportedly taken part in various conflicts, including operations in the Syrian Civil War on the side of the Syrian government as well as, from 2014 until 2015, in the War in Donbass in Ukraine aiding the separatist forces of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

Ukraine also became actively involved in the Wagner mercenaries scandal this week. The Kremlin immediately started the new propaganda campaign claiming that he scandal and Ukraine involvement is orchestrated by the West. Hence, Belarus is the next step in the Western interference in the former Soviet bloc.

Additionally, this week the Belarusian government’s news agency, BelTA, published a link to an anonymous article, “Who is preparing the Maidan in Belarus?” The anonymous article claims that the Belarusian secret services managed to uncover the plot thanks to information from their Western colleagues leaked through Ukraine.

Timed propaganda and false narratives continue to spread ahead of the upcoming presidential election in Belarus slated for August 9th. The protests will continue until the election, and even possibly after. It would depend on the outcome of the election.

It should be noted that President Alexander Lukashenko jailed both of the opposition candidates, thus hindering their chances of running in the upcoming election. He just didn’t expect that one of the wives of the opposition candidates would run. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, wife of Sergei Tikhanovsky, has seen her campaign gain momentum in Belarus.

Moreover, it seems Lukashenko developed paranoid, delusional thoughts that the Kremlin is planning a coup in Belarus. Now, to  amplify the effect, Ukraine is a “partner ” in the fight against “Russian interference in the Belarusian elections”.

As soon as the information about the arrest of Russians in Minsk was made public, a statement by the Deputy Secretary of the Security Council, Sergei Krivonos, immediately appeared about the need to extradite “terrorist fighters” to Ukraine. He stated such a step

“Would strengthen normal relations between Ukraine and Belarus . . . it would discourage our enemies from using the territory of our neighbours as a springboard for actions against Ukraine.”

Presidential elections will be held in Belarus on 9 August 2020. Long-term president Alexander Lukashenko has announced he will run for a sixth term in office, having won every presidential election since independence in 1991, and is heavily-favored to win again.

Krivonos is making out Wagner to be grandiose and almost super fighters. Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Enin is in direct contact with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent. This was a necessary measure to seek protection against Russia by Ukraine.

The fact that Kiev is actively involved in the support of the scandal with mercenaries is a clear marker of a last-ditch effort to gain some traction on their situation with Russia.

At the same time, many forget that Lukashenko has been in power since 1991, predating the office of the president. He also jails anyone who opposes his views. Belarus has been stuck in the last century. There is almost no economic progress in the country.

Lastly, Russia and Belarus share border control systems and a banking system. Such amalgamation was signed by Lukashenko with Russia.

Belarus will continue to be in the turmoil with more to come. Ukraine is not a strong ally or partner. It would be wiser to partner with the Baltic States and Poland to seek support, if in fact the Kremlin is interfering into Belarusian politics.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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