Belarus should become a part of Europe in the political and military sense.
On December 6, the Government of Belarus approved a project within the framework of the "union state" program on the improvement of military infrastructure facilities that are intended for joint use with Russia.
What does this mean in practice? Zmitser Bandarenka, a coordinator of the European Belarus civil campaign, answered this and other questions to Charter97.org.
– What is really behind the statement about the "military infrastructure of the union state"? Can we say that Russian troops will be brought to Belarus?
– It is already possible to talk about – and the leadership of the Ministry of Defense of Belarus does not hide it – that Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers and other military equipment will be delivered to Belarusian warehouses.
We have an absolutely open border with Russia, which Russian troops can cross at any time.
I would like to remind you that earlier, when the issue of the Russian airbase in Belarus was discussed, the defense minister said that it was not needed, because Belarus had several dozens of prepared airfields, and, if necessary, hundreds of Russian planes could be on placed there at any time.
Today we can say that the West-2017 exercises fulfilled their hybrid function and gradually prepared public opinion for the fact that Russian troops will be located on the territory of Belarus.
Notice, the official media constantly said: "No, nothing will happen, there will be no deployment of any troops!" And now, when it has happened already, the mass media informed Belarusian citizens that Russian military equipment would be located in our country and that troops can be deployed at any time.
In any normal country, there would be a nation-wide discussion, discussion in the media, consideration of experts' opinions. Here they have simply made people face the fact: in military terms, Belarus is already part of the territory of the empire. What kind of "union state" can we talk about, if it is clear that it is the Russian Federation in the military sense.
– What historical associations does the Belarusian government trigger in this connection? Can we say that it acted as a "dumb Sejm" of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1793?
– In historical terms, we should remember that the first partition of the Commonwealth was in 1772, while the Hrodno or "second dumb" Sejm happened in 1793. That is, the neighboring countries, primarily Russia, used the same occupation strategy – "on the sly." The only difference is that Belarus was part of the Russian Empire, the tsarist and the Soviet, for the last 200 years, and the independence period lasted only about 20 years. That is, we, generally speaking, did not leave the empire for real.
The power of Lukashenko is nothing more than the power of the ruler of a union republic with more extended attributes.
– What other consequences, besides of the rapid transfer of Russian troops, will the current situation have for Belarus and its neighbors?
– It is important to understand that there are military and there are politicians in the West. The military has long considered the Belarusian army to be part of Russia. This was stated at the NATO summit in Warsaw.
The transfer of small Alliance units to the Baltic countries, Poland, and Romania was caused by the military activity of Russia in Belarus. These battalions are a small deterrent force against the joint Russian-Belarusian military grouping.
And the politicians of the West and Ukraine are trying to get to the Russian market in conditions of sanctions and counter sanctions. This scheme was perfected by Saakashvili's regime, when there was a war between Georgia and Russia, and all contraband of wines, Borjomi and other goods went through Belarus, and the citizens of Georgia could get to Russia from the territory of our country.
In the same way, Belarus is now a contraband hub, and Western leaders and the Ukrainian government need Lukashenka to penetrate the Russian market, as well as to import Russian oil products.
Therefore, NATO military are aware of the threat from the current situation, and politicians think more about export flows and smuggling flows. And the Belarusians are put in such conditions that people have to think only about how to make it to at least a month, because if there is no work, one simply cannot survive, pay utility bills and so on. It is quite likely that this is what Russia wants for Belarus – to keep the Belarusians in such an economic situation when they cannot think about resistance.
– What should be the reaction of Ukraine and the countries which are members of the NATO? What can public activists and opposition politicians do in Belarus?
– As it has often happened in our history, the future of Belarus will depend on global processes and on the processes taking place in the region.
Now experts say that Russia seeks destabilization of the European Union, expects to divide the common position of Western countries. And the West, primarily the United States, realizing the danger of the actions of the Russian Federation, which got "spotted" during the annexation of the Crimea and the war in the Donbass, introduces sanctions against it.
It is likely that Russia will share the fate of the Soviet Union when huge military groups were deployed in European countries, Berlin was part of the Soviet bloc, which started expansions in Afghanistan, in Africa (Angola and Mozambique), Nicaragua, Grenada – and then the Soviet empire collapsed in the blink of an eye.
It seems to me that Russia will share the destiny of the Soviet Union. The more Putin financially supports Lukashenka, the sooner Russia will fall apart. Belarus should be ready for the collapse of the Russian Empire, and Belarusian leaders should use this moment to make the country enter the normal European community economically, politically and militarily.