15 December 2019, Sunday, 23:27
The Wait Is Nearly Over

Andrei Sannikov: Belarus Called Key Geopolitical Factor In US

Andrei Sannikov: Belarus Called Key Geopolitical Factor In US
Andrei Sannikov

How the RAND report can change the US policy towards our country.

The American corporation RAND presented a report that sets out a complex of measures to restrain Russia.

Among them - the supply of arms to Ukraine, assistance to the Syrian opposition, full-scale economic sanctions and even possible deployment of missiles in Europe.

The report made quite a fuss in Russia: the official Russian media met it quite anxiously.

Leader of the European Belarus civil campaign, presidential candidate at the 2010 elections in Belarus Andrei Sannikov told the website Charter97.org about the importance of the RAND report for the formation of American policy with regard to our region.

- With what, in your opinion, is the appearance of this report connected?

- The RAND report is an analysis of the US capabilities to curb Russia's aggression.

I think that it was caused by the behavior of Russia itself, even provoked by this behavior. Over the years, we have been seeing its aggressive behavior - not only in our region, but also beyond. Recently, Russia has intensified near the United States, in Venezuela, which could not but cause concern to the Americans.

I would say that this report is a kind of response to the ''Gerasimov Doctrine'', named after the Chief of the General Staff of Russia Valery Gerasimov, who offered his own interpretation of the interstate conflict and equated political, economic and informational actions to the military ones. In accordance with these developments, Russia acted in Ukraine, occupying the eastern part of the country and annexing the Crimea.

Naturally, such actions of Russia could not but alarm NATO and the United States - as a result, this report appeared, which describes in sufficient detail the set of measures that the United States can take in the event of further escalation of the Russian aggression. Moreover, it is not only about help to Ukraine and Syria. This set of measures is called ''measures for imposing expenditures.''

In general, the United States also reconsidered the strategy that was applied to the USSR during the time of Ronald Reagan. But if then it was connected with the arms race, here it is connected with a set of measures.

- Will these measures in relation to the Russian Federation have the same effect as the arms race used to exhaust the USSR?

- These measures are already in place. This includes economic sanctions that force the Kremlin to unforeseen expenses, energy projects involving the diversification of energy sources for Europe, while lowering the price of oil and gas by expanding energy production in the United States. It also reveals a comprehensive military technical program on land, at sea and in space, which leaves Russia no chance in the military rivalry. Nobody needs a new ''arms race'' because it weakens our common security, but it is Russia that is pushing it today.

We know only a small surface part of the report. I think that the whole complex of measures to protect the interests of the United States and prevent dangerous actions of Russia, are considered in sufficient detail in it.

The authors of the report specify that this is not a strategy, but proposals that can be used in the US policy towards the Russian Federation. We are talking about several layers of sanctions and measures to impose expenditures, and I believe that this is quite a serious warning to the Kremlin, no wonder the Kremlin media alarmed.

- The report mentions Belarus and Ukraine. Is there anything new in the approach of American analysts to our country?

- Indeed, in addition to various measures - economic, political, ideological, informational, maritime, military, and so on - Belarus is mentioned in the report.

For the first time, as far as I know, Belarus has been singled out as a separate serious geopolitical factor - not only in our region, but also in a global sense.

It should be noted that the report speaks about the liberalization of Belarus, that is, about changing the political system in our country.

Of course, it is indicated that high risks are associated with this, but attention is drawn to the fact that the report mentions serious benefits.

According to the authors of the report, the greatest geopolitical benefits can be obtained as a result of helping Ukraine and restoring democracy in Belarus. This refers to the benefits not only for the United States, but also for the international security, and for ourselves.

- You met with the RAND experts. What can you tell about this meeting?

- A special seminar on Belarus was organized at the RAND Corporation. When I was in Washington, I spoke at this seminar, and we discussed the situation in our region in some detail.

It was interesting to listen to their assessments, which in many respects coincided (especially in what dangers Belarus represents militarily, in fact, being under the control of the General Staff of Russia). The possibilities of the situation development were also discussed.

RAND is a fairly serious company, it is considered the first think tank in the States, working under the orders of the US government. Basically, RAND is engaged in ordering military and intelligence agencies.

It is worth remembering that the report of RAND in 1972 is considered the plan for the implementation of US policy towards the USSR, which led to its collapse.

- Can the shift of emphasis towards Belarus in the RAND report lead to a real statement of our country's priority for the United States? Just like the position of Zbigniew Brzezinski on Poland and Ukraine once reflected on the significance of these countries?

- I think it should affect. The report, among the most important geopolitical factors, indicated Ukraine (this is natural, besides there is a war going on), Syria, Belarus, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. That is, this is not by Brzezinski, this is a completely different picture of the world. And the fact that Belarus along with Ukraine is indicated as the key geopolitical factor, I think, is a positive shift in the perception of our region by the Americans.

We suffered for a long time from the fact that Belarus was considered an appendix of Russia - and even now, no sense to hide it, some people think so, even among our neighbors. Some put an equal sign between the Lukashenka regime and Belarus, which should not be done in any way.

When Belarus is viewed as an independent, self-sufficient state, a completely different picture emerges and the important geopolitical role of our country becomes clear.