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Belarus Instability - August 2020

Donald H

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As much as I could see, RT.com is silent on this today but full of articles supporting Trump. They've definitely upped their ante on who they are supporting to win the US election.
 

The Bread Guy

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Well, nothing to see here, then - this from BLR state media ....
Subdivisions of the Investigative Committee are carrying out preliminary investigation into citizen complaints about use of force and special means during unauthorized mass events, BelTA learned from the information department of the Prosecutor General's Office.

These probes are designed to study the situation objectively, fully and comprehensively and to establish the presence or absence of elements of crime in the actions of law enforcement while detaining, transporting and keeping citizens in temporary detention facilities after their participation in unauthorized mass events. Each probe is overseen by prosecution agencies ...
As Captain Renault would say ....
 

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The Bread Guy

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More on this:
The Kremlin announced it has created a reserve force to intervene in Belarus if necessary. Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an interview to the state-run Russia 1 TV channel on August 27.[1] Putin stated the Kremlin has prepared a “reserve of law enforcement officers” but will not deploy it to Belarus unless the situation “gets out of control.” The Kremlin previously pledged it would intervene in Belarus in response to foreign intervention on August 15 and has claimed foreign intervention is ongoing since August 19.[2] Putin’s statement is the first Kremlin acknowledgment of preparations to intervene in Belarus. The Kremlin has supported Lukashenko with RT technical personnel, information support, and potentially covert security coordination since August 19.[3] ISW has previously assessed the Kremlin is prepared to intervene in Belarus to support Lukashenko if he is unable to control protests.[4]

Putin is likely issuing this statement as a dual warning – both to protesters and to Lukashenko – to stabilize the situation to avoid a Russian intervention. Putin stated the Kremlin hopes “the current problems in Belarus will be resolved peacefully,” but warned protesters that if they “go beyond the framework of the current law, the law will react accordingly.”[5] Putin acknowledged that problems exist in Belarus, but stressed protesters must follow the law. The Kremlin likely aims to intimidate protesters through the threat of a Russian security intervention.

The Kremlin is additionally likely warning Lukashenko to stabilize the protests or face further Russian involvement. A Russian aircraft known to be operated by the FSB (Russian intelligence) arrived in Minsk the night of August 26 and departed 5 hours later.[6] ISW cannot confirm who or what arrived in Belarus on the flight, but assesses the FSB likely sent dignitaries to speak with Lukashenko and may have sent Russian security personnel to remain behind as well. The aircraft made a similar trip to Minsk the night of August 19, after which Putin and Lukashenko publicly announced they had begun consultations for a possible Russian intervention.[7] Lukashenko has primarily cooperated with the Kremlin to respond to protests since August 15. However, the Kremlin likely seeks to cement its control over Lukashenko’s actions and pressure him to control protesters with the threat of further Kremlin involvement ...
More @ link
 

Donald H

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milnews.ca said:
More from all over the place ...

Nothing much from the U.S. though, so a couple of questions remain unanswered:

1. How much support did Lukashenko really have in the election?

2. Where is Trump's opinion on this situation. (is he allowed to have an opinion)

3. Will US/Nato response to this situation be different according to whether it's Trump pulling the strings or it's Biden. Assuming there are still decisions to be made after November-January?
 

The Bread Guy

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A bit of the latest ....
President Alexander Lukashenko asserted he was in control of the situation in Belarus and does not require Russian help on August 28. Lukashenko gave a defiant speech downplaying the need for Russian assistance during a visit to the city of Orsha in eastern Belarus on August 28.[1] Lukashenko stated the protests in the country and his claims of NATO pressure “are my problems, and I will solve them.” Lukashenko downplayed the possibility of a Russian intervention in Belarus, following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s August 27 announcement that Russia has prepared a unit of security forces to deploy to Belarus if necessary.[2] Lukashenko stated “we [Belarusians] will defend ourselves” and stated the Kremlin only seeks to defend itself through Belarus. Lukashenko claimed the Russian forces will only deploy in the event of NATO deployments on the “western border of the Union State.” The Kremlin, however, framed the reserve unit as “law enforcement officers” – not a military force aimed at protecting Belarus’ western border against NATO.

Lukashenko may be resisting Kremlin pressure to request Russian assistance and facilitate a Russian intervention. Lukashenko has acknowledged Russian support but deflected the need for Russian security forces since the Kremlin publicly offered to intervene in Belarus on August 15.[3] The Kremlin appears to want Lukashenko to formally request Russian support in order to justify a Russian deployment of military forces to Belarus, which would entrench Kremlin dominance over Belarus and establish a precedent for the use of Russian gendarmes in former Soviet states. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) flight to Minsk the night of August 26 may have facilitated a meeting in which Kremlin representatives pressured Lukashenko to stick to the Kremlin’s desired information campaign of framing protests as a NATO-backed effort to target both Belarus and Russia, justifying Russian involvement. The Kremlin will likely apply further pressure on Lukashenko and retains the option to deploy forces to Belarus without Lukashenko’s approval ...
More @ link
 

OceanBonfire

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They're cracking down on journalists:

Belarus revokes accreditations of journalists covering protests for foreign media

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-belarus-election-journalists/belarus-revokes-accreditations-of-journalists-covering-protests-for-foreign-media-idUSKBN25P0LQ

Belarus cracks down on journalists, 2 AP staff deported

https://apnews.com/194c3556d455d3d4d03df1fc92d55a65
 

Donald H

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This is the story posted by milnews.ca that helps to answer some questions on the loyalty of the opposition movement, providing we accept it as factual.

https://tass.com/world/1195073
 

The Bread Guy

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Donald H said:
This is the story posted by milnews.ca that helps to answer some questions on the loyalty of the opposition movement, providing we accept it as factual.

https://tass.com/world/1195073
Typically, I'd wonder what's left out or what angle any info-machine like TASS would take, too, but it appears that she is quoted in a Euronews interview (in Russian here), saying (Google Translate):
... Since this is a crisis within the country, and it is not directed against any state, we take responsibility for resolving this crisis through negotiations within the country. But if we need international mediation in the negotiations, we, of course, see Russia as one of the participants in this process. Russia is a country with which we are friends, with which we have close relations ...

Mind you, she's saying this while in Lithuania, so it would be interesting to if she'd continue using this message track if/when she returns to Belarus.

And she should be kinda careful if she goes back, given the ... tragic high-risk-uninsurability of opponents of Lukashenko & Co.
 

The Bread Guy

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Russian-state media, through some commentary (in Russian), is sending a strongish message:  we're all really one big (happy?) family, right? ...
... Belarus is not a subject of the Russian Federation, but it is part of the Union State. That is, its defense policy and security, in fact, are common with Russia, but the further course of integration will lead to the fact that the two divided parts of a single whole will become inseparable. Two states of one people are always a temporary phenomenon ...
This, in spite of BLR showing some reluctance in the past about being TOO "linked" to Russia.  This could be part of building any potential "those local defence militias you're seeing are just helping out (sorta-kinda) fellow Russians" narrative.  Like Crimea, Russia has bases in BLR from which "polite little green men" could sprout.

Meanwhile, Russia says 2 military bases in Belarus are enough for now and that their foreign int folks are keeping an eye (link in Russian), both countries are preparing for "Slavic Brotherhood" military exercises coming up and Russia's PM's dropping by Minsk this week (with BLR's defence minister dropping by Moscow later in the week - link in Russian).

Oh, and don't forget that those damned Ukrainians also have a hand in this, too ....

More from the Institute for the Study of War here.
 

a_majoor

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Austin Bay looks at some of the larger picture. Belarus really would be of little interest to anyone except for it's geographic position.

https://strategypage.com/on_point/20200901211727.aspx

On Point: Why Turmoil in Belarus Matters
by Austin Bay
September 1, 2020

Twenty-first-century political geography, however, damns Belarus with a damnation that matters. Check the map. Belarus is the linchpin of nuclear-armed Russia's western front, the mirror image of Poland's new role in defending NATO's eastern front.

Belarus is also Russia's last Slavic satellite nation -- or so the Kremlin sees it, which adds a demographic interest to a Russia confronted by population decline.

The Kremlin sees Belarus as key to Russian defensive and offensive operations on Europe's new central front. Russia borders Baltic states and NATO members Estonia and Latvia, so Russian ground forces can directly threaten them. However, Belarus separates Russia from NATO nations Poland and Lithuania. A pro-Western government in Belarus denying Russian forces its territory reduces the prospect of a surprise Kremlin attack on Poland. It greatly diminishes the diplomatic and media leverage the Kremlin seeks when it conducts tank and mech infantry exercises along a NATO border.

Is this Russian threat theoretical? The Poles don't think so. Russia's invasion and annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine is fact, not theory. So is Russian hybrid war, toxic political meddling, information warfare, narrative warfare, economic threats, covert attacks and assassination.
 

The Bread Guy

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We have some sightings of men in balaclavas and plain green uniforms in the streets of Minsk (via Twitter - more via YouTube here).

One explanation:
Security personnel wearing unmarked green uniforms appeared in Minsk for the first time on September 5. The personnel are reportedly Belarusian riot police (OMON) in new uniforms. These personnel wear Russian-made Dozor body cameras – a model of cameras Russian police and interior forces as well as Belarusian OMON personnel use.[ii] Belarusian OMON previously wore all black uniforms with identifying markings.[iii] It is unclear why Belarusian OMON would have changed their uniforms and removed identifying markings. They could be setting conditions for the appearance of Russian security personnel in similar unmarked uniforms ...

Based on the screen captures attached, my bet is on police 1)  because at least some of those in green coveralls don't seem to be ... of a body type that would suggest military special forces of any kind, and 2)  the presence/assistance of plain clothes folks wearing similar balaclavas and using similar radios.

:pop:
 

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The Bread Guy

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Mainstream media right now seems to be focusing on opposition leader arrests (more from independent Russian media on that here, and a clear "we know NOTHING of such arrests" via RUS state media here), continued protests & mass arrests (more from USA-government-funded media here) and the EU's initial response to the Belarus unpleasantness.

Belarusian state media, on the other hand, is focusing more on a "dog ability competition", the launch of what looks like a new housing development called "Minsk World," and the latest harvest numbers

There IS one warning from BLR's top cop:  careful what you wish for with those (coloured?) revolutions in the streets, kids

Feels almost Soviet, don't it?  ;D
 

PuckChaser

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Crimea 2.0. Maybe Europe will take it seriously this time and stop appeasing Putin.
 

Donald H

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https://www.dw.com/en/kremlin-us-sanctions-wont-stop-nord-stream-2-gas-pipeline-to-germany/a-51720728

U.S attempting to stop Nord Stream 2. The Belarus situation appears to be the main reason why. And it looks like it's going to depend on Trump. I would suggest the little cartoon contained within is misleading but that's more about the political spin.

Opinions?
 

Donald H

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Progress on the situation is long drawn out and as slow as mollasses in January. I would suggest that is in a large part due to the US election for president and the result.

Yes, that is referring to Trump's relationship with Putin.
 
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