Saturday, August 25, 2018

Lukashenka Caves, Accepts Babich as Putin's Man in Belarus

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 24 – In the end and despite a long delay, Alyaksandr Lukashenka could not refuse Vladimir Putin’s insistence that Minsk accept Mikhail Babich as Russian ambassador and Putin’s special representative to Belarus, even though Ukraine had rejected him two years ago and many in Minsk are concerned about his role there.

            Belarusian officials have made it clear they’re nervous about someone with a background in the security organs rather than diplomacy and fear that he may be “too active” in areas beyond what a diplomat is normally responsible for. But at their Sochi meeting, Lukashenka finally gave agrément ( and

            And having won this latest “diplomatic” standoff, both Vladimir Putin and Russian commentators could not refrain from rubbing it in and underscoring what is the unfortunate fact that Babich is going to be far more than just another ambassador even of Belarus’ most important trading and political partner. 

            Putin for his part told Babich that “you ill be involved not only in diplomatic work, but in work in the sphere of economics representing the interests of Russia as its special representative. I expect, given your experience of government work in the most varied and senior positions, that this responsible task will be in your reliable hands” (

            Further, the Kremlin leader said, he intends to have “regular meetings” with Babich to discuss how this “work” is going.” Sergey Markov, a Moscow commentator with close ties to the Kremlin and the security organs, indicated that diplomacy will not be Babich’s primary responsibility (

            “I am certain,” Markov says, “that such a strong and experienced official as Mikhail Babich will be able to untying all ‘the knots’ between Russia and Belarus which do exist.” But even more, the Moscow commentator says, “Babich will work jointly with the Belarusian authorities to counter Western efforts to organize a Maidan in Minsk.”

            “Before our eyes,” he continues, “Western foundations are trying to repeat in Belarus what they have already done in Ukraine by fostering anti-Russian nationalism.  By his character, Babich is a special forces man [spetsnazovet]” and thus can be counted on to proceed regardless of the obstacles he may face. 

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