Thursday, October 8, 2015

‘There Will Be a Russian Base in Belarus,’ Russian Analysts Say

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 8 – Despite Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s statement that there is no need today for a Russian base in Belarus, one will be built, Russian analysts say. The only questions are where it will be located and how much Moscow will have to pay– and the Belarusian leader’s remark is likely part of a game to extract more money from the Russian side.

            Lukashenka’s denial of an agreement, political scientist Igor Mintusov says, likely is about the lack of an agreement concerning where the base will be and the amount of money Moscow will give Mensk for it. But there is no doubt that there is an accord in principle about having a Russian base in Belarus, he says (

            In support of that, he adds that “geopolitics and all recent geopolitical and international trends suggest that it is very logical and natural for Russia to create a new airbase on the territory of Russia.”

            Aleksandr Sobyanin, the head of strategic planning for the Russian Association of Border Cooperation, says that he believes Lukashenka’s remark is less about how much money he hopes to get than about where the base should be. Moscow would like it in Lida while many in Belarus would prefer it to be in Bobruisk.

            But “without any doubt, the base will be opened. There are no reasons and no signals tha the base cannot appear. None,” he says.          

            Natalya Burlinova, another Russian political analyst agrees. She says that what remains to be agreed are “technical and legal aspects” of a Russian base in Belarus. “This is not a question of political disagreements between our countries or about a new conflict. This is a purely technical issue” on which the two sides will find agreement, she argues.

            Mensk’s recent moves with regard to the West do not change the fact, Burlinova says, that “strategically, Belarus is defined by its choice – union with Russia” politically, economically and militarily. Those things will not change, and the appearance of a Russian base in Belarus is thus entirely natural.

            And she says that “any issue of a military nature is the exclusive province of Russia and Belarus. Who, where and what will be put in place. In the framework of these bilateral relations, this will be agreed. As far as the relations of Belarus with the West,” she says that she “does not think that this has any direct impact on the level of ties between Belarus and Russia.

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