Military exercises in Belarus are a starting point.
Foreign troops enter Belarus. Everything is almost good - joint exercises. Combat brotherhood and so on. Everyone knows that a subtle enemy is at the gates. And we are in the same trench again. Well, allies. More precisely, the elder brother and the younger one does temp work. Together they are strong.
And a set of cars runs on rails. There are tanks, self-propelled artillery vehicles, staff cars on platforms. It looks like a war is waging somewhere. Right here, very close. They drive without having a rest towards the frontline. Military echelons go on and on. And this insanity has been lasting for more than six months. How many troops are sent in? How many of them are sent back to Russia? It does not seem that somebody counted them. Or intended to do it. What for? It's an order, no questions.
And activist Natallia Horyachka was detained on the forest road near Barysau. She wanted to see her son who served there in the army. Russian military detained her. And people in plain clothes took her away. They refused to introduce themselves or at least answer usual questions. As it should be, the detainee was accompanied by a Russian foul language along the way. The exercises have not yet begun, but martinetism and lawlessness were growing every minute. They were quick to recall the Belarusians about the life in occupation. To make people understand who is the master here.
It seems that ordinary exercises have never caused such an information boom. It has its reason. The Russian side is as outraged as the devil. Why did the Western press suddenly raise hell about innocent and planned exercises? And prominent politicians are here. Military men got concerned. The commander of American troops in Europe, General Ben Hodges, plainly characterized intentions of those who conceived such odious in the current conditions of maneuvers: "This is the Trojan horse. They say: we just carry out exercises. And then suddenly they will send in all these people in the other direction."
There are plenty of such directions today. The Baltic countries are worried about the security of their borders. They have enough of such experience. Southern neighbors have the same concerns. Ukraine has sufficient grounds not to perceive the redeployment of Putin's soldiers as a purely transport problem.
And whether it is accidental that voices of anxious neighbors provoke such a wave of righteous anger among the Kremlin rulers. Many of them were resented about unreasonable reproaches and more than strange conjectures. Lieutenant General Fomin, Deputy Minister of Defence in Russia, was the last to say: "None of these looking glass versions has anything to do with the reality. It has already been repeatedly confirmed by officials of both the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus." A strong argument!
He is right: it's no good to pick on these ordinary and completely transparent exercises. There is no scheme. Who has come up with the idea to suspect the true supporters of a sustainable peace and defenders of all the weak and the offended in the confrontation with Europe? It's far from the breakthrough in Ukraine or Anschluss of Belarus! It is said clearly that only three thousand military took part in the exercises on the Russian side. The usual meeting of brothers in arms. They will take exercises on training areas and analyse them. Then they have a drink as soldiers always do. And come back home.
No matter how generals swear that there is no dirty trick, peaceful moods are not yet foreseeable. Everything here is shrouded in darkness and fog. Announced figures do not meet. The story doesn't hold water. And then other staff officer eagerly and suddenly chattered: the exercises will take place on a vast territory - from the Kola Peninsula to the Kaliningrad region. Indeed, an unprecedented movement of Russian troops was noticed in August.
The ruler is right: Russia won't leave Belarus. And it is not because of defense-based reasons. Our eastern neighbor desperately needs this land as a platform, an eternal battlefield between the West and the East, to send in troops in Europe.
And the Kremlin successfully entrapped the sham generalissimo and his inner circle is almost convinced that the special operation under the compulsion to unconditional friendship will be executed easily without incidents. Anschluss will be so smooth that no one will notice the moment of seizure. Are there any doubts? The border is open. The power that is ready to destroy its own citizens even for a passive resistance to the Russian aggression. But the main thing is the fragile sovereignty that is being sold for pennies.
Everyone knows that the regime misses foreign currency. No one wants to give loans. And every year the service of the public debt requires billions. And Russia suddenly give the ruler the loan of $700 million. What is the reason for such a sudden generosity? It's simplicity itself!
Last summer Russian Duma ratified the agreement on joint defense of the airspace of Belarus without a problem. And this is a real possibility of legitimate penetration into the country. the Belarusians no longer own their skies. More precisely, it belongs not only to them. And who will defend someone's airspace, if there is a foreign territory below. There are no doubts that only little time left for a joint protection of the western border.
Everything's clear with this regime. But why do Belarusians need this more than a strange defense on the part of impudent and lawless green men who behave unpredictably -they drive through Brest or suddenly break into a Vitsebsk tram with a weapon in their hands? Has the life become better for anyone when Russian troops exercised here a nuclear strike on Warsaw, a breakthrough to the Suwalk corridor or landing of transport aircraft on the highway near Minsk? Does anyone still believe that such tricks do not bear consequences?
Joint exercises are the term for all kinds of suckers, ours and foreign ones. In fact, this is an ordinary special operation. As well as all previous maneuvers. After each next appearance of these people in green our sovereignty is getting smaller. Local army is out of question; it surely stoops to the level of the Belarusian military district. No one has still voiced his dissatisfaction with it.
And the Russian troops continue to arrive. They spread all over Belarus. Not green recruits but selective parts experienced in flash points. They know what they are expected from on these supposedly maneuvers. And the tainted story of a scandalous detention of the Belarusian soldier's mother no longer looks just an annoying incident. There is nothing accidental. This marks the beginning. This is a starting point.
If the action was conducted by the locals, no one would be surprised. It's normal to grab a person or even condemn for nothing. But the detention of the Belarusian citizen was carried out by soldiers of a foreign army. And this is a completely different story. It has not happened since the war.
No matter where a person is detained - in a forest, on a field road or in the city center - this is the return to the story we have already lived through. Strangers dominate here again. It does not matter the occupation comes from: the west, the east, or Mars. It is still desperate and disgusting to the limit. When such times come, it means that one needs to defend his home and his country.
And not to miss the moment before it’s too late.
Uladzimir Khalip for Charter97.org