Friday, December 28, 2018

‘If Moscow Doesn’t Want a US Base in Smolensk, It Must Install Pro-Russian People in Minsk,’ Belarusian Economist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 27 – Moscow risks having to deal with the eventual appearance of an American military base near Smolensk unless it moves quickly to install “pro-Russian people” in the power structures of Belarus before the Americans can organize a Ukrainian-style Maidan there, according to Valery Bainyev.

            The words of the economics professor at the Belarusian State University, covered by the influential Moscow outlet Russkaya Narodnaya Liniya highlight both Russian hysteria about Belarus and the existence of people in Belarus ready to support a Russian move against it (

            “I consider that there are serious problems” in relations between Belarus and Russia, Bainyev says, not about gas prices or anything like that but about the efforts of Western governments in Belarus which are now trying to set it against Russia just as they have managed to set Ukraine against Moscow in recent years.

            According to the Belarusian economist, “the West is very actively working in Belarus, advancing its people in power and in administrative structures, and they are quietly being pushed forward with the financial, political and moral support of the West.” While this is happening, Moscow is convinced nothing serious can happen because “Belarusians are our brothers.”

            As long as Aleksandr Lukashenka remains in office, the situation will be all right, Bainyev says; “but as is well known, nothing is eternal under the moon. People age and leave;” and after he goes, there will appear in Minsk “an absolutely anti-Russian and pro-Western president.  And then Russia will get what it will get.”

                Moscow’s foreign policy has been quite successful far from Russia’s borders, he continues; but it has been anything but successful near them. Russia “took Crimea but has lost Ukraine and gotten instead a motivated enemy” which the West will arm and finance. As a result, Russia has problems of a serious kind there.

            The situation in Armenia and in Central Asia is anything but good. Moscow isn’t focusing on these. As a result, it is losing out to Western efforts across the board including in Belarus where the people in the Russian capital assume there cannot be any such problems by definition. 

            According to Bainyev, “if Russia does not focus its foreign policy priorities on the countries just over the border, then near Smolensk with time will appear American military bases and rockets whose flying time to Moscow can be counted in seconds.”  To prevent that, “Russia must promote in the power structures of Belarus pro-Russian people.”

            Otherwise, anti-Russian and pro-Western forces will triumph, he concludes; and Moscow will have to face up to the fact that the situation it will then find itself in is the result of its own inattention to the dangers near Russia’s borders. 

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