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Dzmitry Bandarenka: Lukashenka Has Played Out

Dzmitry Bandarenka: Lukashenka Has Played Out

All Western intelligence services are working against the Belarusian regime.

Who participated in the new conspiracy against Putin? Why should Lukashenka be afraid of NATO exercises? How did Belarusians give a slap in the face to former officials and enforcers? Is Mikhail Khodorkovsky right when he talks about losing Ukraine?

Dzmitry Bandarenka, coordinator of the European Belarus Civil Campaign, spoke to Charter97.org about this and more.

"Putin uncovered a conspiracy of the MoD generals"

— The most important news from the fronts of the war in Ukraine is that a number of Western countries have lifted restrictions on strikes on the territory of Russia with their weapons, and in the near future France may send its military instructors to Ukraine. Is the West beginning to understand who Putin is dealing with?

— I think that the West has long understood who it is dealing with, especially after Bucha and Irpin, after the crimes against civilians noticed by the world. The West understands that it is dealing with an aggressive country that has decided to destroy the world order and does not limit itself to any international laws.

Ukraine has already received about $150 billion (military assistance and economic and humanitarian aids) from various countries. The leading role in this is played by the United States, NATO, the European Union, Australia, Japan, South Korea, even third world countries took part. We see systematic actions on the part of democratic countries to help Ukraine. Now they are gaining more clarity and consistency.

— In Russia, large-scale purges and resignations took place in the Ministry of Defence and among the generals. After that, many began to talk about the fact that Putin was preparing for a long war. Do you think Russia can fight a long war or is it a bluff?

— My version is that Putin has uncovered a conspiracy, this is not a fight against corruption. General Popov, whose troops were in the main area of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, can be called the "Russian Rommel". After all, he saved the Russian army from defeat. You can treat him differently, but he is a professional, and not the main corruptor.

Prigozhin, Surovikin and some Russian generals took part in the first conspiracy, and now this is a conspiracy of deputy defence ministers and a number of military generals, because they understand that Putin is destroying the Russian army and Russia as a country. Russia will not emerge victorious from this war.

They often recall the example of the Iran-Iraq war, which lasted eight years. But everyone forgets to say that the demographic situation in Iran and Iraq is significantly different from the Russian one. Many people, especially at the top, understand that Putin is destroying the Russian Federation. Yes, they are intimidated, yes, they are afraid, but the military, who know how to think logically, understand that Putin is leading Russia to disaster.

This is not about corruption. As for the readiness to wage a long war — Putin would like to fight it until his death. After all, after Crimea, he clearly caught the mindset of the Russian plebs, who will have nothing to eat, but they will stare at the TV and rejoice in the "new territories" (as if they have few old ones). Putin realized that only in this way can he survive, because Russia under his rule has become a third-rate country both economically, demographically, and in terms of leadership. Therefore, Putin will strive to continue the war, which does not exclude a ceasefire that is beneficial for him along the front line that exists. The Russians would like to get a respite, but to continue further aggressive actions.

"Lukashenka has finished his game"

— The bolder steps of the West also affect the situation in Belarus. Thus, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that Ukraine has the right to hit Russian military targets in Belarus. Western media wrote that if NATO troops appeared in Ukraine, they could stay on the border with our country. Lukashenka has repeatedly described a scenario when the Western military will liberate Belarus. Does Lukashenka have reasons for fear in this situation?

— Recently, the largest NATO exercises since the Cold War have ended, which covered a large area: from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea. A huge number of troops were involved. These exercises were also directed against the Lukashenka regime. Former post-Soviet countries, post-socialist countries, which are now NATO member states also took part. 20,000 British troops were deployed. This is a unique event, because the British army has about 75,000. Imagine how much of the British troops were involved in this exercise. The maneuvers were held in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Romania.

Lukashenka decided to attach importance to himself and declare that he has nuclear weapons. Some experts believe that there are no nukes in Belarus. However, this aroused a reciprocal interest on the part of NATO in the Belarusian regime. We can say that these exercises are a response to the saber-rattling of Putin and Lukashenka. A number of Polish politicians say that nuclear weapons should be deployed in Poland. True, on completely different principles. The largest naval exercises in the Baltic Sea since the Cold War are now starting. With the participation of marines, navy, naval pilots. We can say that these exercises are also directed against the Belarusian regime. Lukashenka has played out to a certain extent, because if we compare the situation that was in the zero years, the tenths, Belarus was a member of international military agreements, but today all intelligence services of the world are working against the Lukashenka regime — as strategic intelligence, special purpose intelligence, defence intelligence (already at the level of battalions).

Today, the Belarusian territory is monitored in an enhanced mode from satellites, reconnaissance drones, balloons, with the help of the most modern radio-electronic means, reconnaissance aircraft. We do not forget that the geography of Belarus is a thousand kilometers of the border with NATO states, a thousand with Ukraine, a thousand with Russia. In this regard, Lukashenka got under a huge magnifier. He cannot make a step, all his movements are spotted. His statements about nuclear weapons led to the fact that the main objects of the Belarusian security forces today have become potential targets of NATO states. Even at the level of the bases of the internal troops, riot police, the police and, of course, the residences of the dictator.

At one time, I saw the results of pinpoint strikes by NATO states on the facilities of the Milosevic regime in Serbia, which led to his end. Lukashenka, of course, is in league with Putin, but this will not last long.

"The Belarusians gave a strong slap to the crooks"

— Let's talk about the so-called elections to the Coordination Council. 6700 people voted. Whatever the organizers of this vote say, this is very little, even if we take the number of Belarusians who left the country. Why did these “elections” fail?

— The Belarusians showed their psychological adequacy and political maturity. It is no secret that a disproportionate number of propagandists, officials and enforcers of the Lukashenka regime nominated for the new "democratic chiefs", who for decades not only did not play any role in the Belarusian Resistance, but also actively built a dictatorship, and now either received the task, or simply have the audacity to be called "democratic leaders". Today, they all got a juicy slap in the face. The Belarusians refused to trust these crooks. Perhaps there were decent people among the participants in these elections, but, frankly, I do not understand what made them participate in this circus.

Naturally, this is a slap in the face to Tsikhanouskaia, her so-called office, because many people from this structure participated in these insane elections. This is a slap in the face to those Western experts who for some reason believed that the former Lukashists were representatives of democratic Belarus. Belarusian citizens inside the country and abroad showed that they would not be cheated.

We saw a kind of boycott. After all, Belarusians had previously boycotted meaningless events of the regime — local "elections", the majority of "elections" to the "tent" [Parliament - Ed.]. The same is true here — ignoring a meaningless event. I can say that those media that tried to inflate the topic of the so-called elections, to give them interest (I do not know, by order or call of the heart) also failed. Then many journalists of pseudo-independent media admitted that only 1% of the audience was interested in these "elections".

I believe that this is a natural result.

"The war destroys the Russia's economy, it will lead to the collapse finally"

— Well-known Russian opposition leader Mikhail Khodorkovsky said about the "actual loss" of Ukraine. He believes that if the West continues to provide assistance to Kyiv at the level that it is today, then by 2026 the Russians will reach Lviv. Do you share this point of view?

— I want to say that Khodorkovsky unequivocally stands on the side of Ukraine. I know that he provides great humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians, and worries about the development of the situation. His words were uttered at a time when it was unclear whether US assistance would go to Ukraine. Khodorkovsky said that without American help, this result would come.

I do not quite agree with his calculations, where he says that Putin spends only 5% of GDP on the war, and Russia feels great. It seems to me that $60 billion of American aid, plus, probably, 40 billion from other countries (and this is only in one year), is a huge help.

We see that the Russians are in a panic and have taken certain actions until the Ukrainians have received powerful Western weapons. On the other hand, Russia is on the offensive. To compensate for such huge assistance, the Russians need to spend three times more money — at least 300 billion. For the creation of new types of weapons, for huge salaries for ordinary soldiers, for new mobilization and so on.

Plus, Russia loses a lot because of the sanctions. We know that in 2023, Russia's export losses amounted to $180 billion. Russia needs to maintain control over the occupied territories of Ukraine, to help the Lukashenka regime without demanding the return of loans. Plus South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transnistria, assistance to their North Caucasian subsidized regions. It is necessary to create a new grouping in the Baltic region following the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO. The loss of the highly profitable European gas market requires huge infrastructure investments to deliver gas to China.

A joyful transition to "military rails" destroys the Russian economy even in the short term. We can say that Russia, in order to stay alive in the conditions of such an intense war and a new geopolitical situation, needs to spend around $400 billion a year in addition.

Everything is very connected. The war destroys the economy of the Russian Federation, which will eventually lead to its military and political defeat.

And the fact that Mikhail Borisovich denotes greater threats to Ukraine, if the West's assistance weakens, it is undoubtedly. We see that for six months without American assistance, Ukraine survived, but at what cost.

I think that Russia will not be able to wage a long-term war, as we discussed at the beginning. The West has already woken up. We see that in the United States the factor of the Ukrainian war is extremely important, especially on the eve of elections, not to mention European countries. Be that as it may, there is a consensus in America among leading Republicans and Democrats to stand up to Putin's Russia. The democratic West swings for a long time, but always wins decisive battles.

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