Belarus Sitrep 6: Reserve OMON

I was saying from the beginning that managing Belarus in the next few months will be a delicate balancing game for Russia, consisting as it does of the following components:

  1. Weakening Lukashenko, which is happening of its own accord, which strengthens Russian negotiating positions in pushing for reintegration.
  2. But preferably not so much that he is overthrown outright.
  3. And also doing so in a way that doesn’t alienate too many anti-Lukashenko (~70% of Belorussians), but non-zmagar/non-Russophobe (~10-15% of Belorussians), people – e.g., like this guy.

It is with the following in mind that we should approach what is the most direct statement of Putin’s support for Lukashenko to date.

Here’s the full transcript (in English) with the Rossiya TV journalist:

Sergei Brilyov: He said that when it comes to the military component, we have a treaty with the Russian Federation in the framework of the Union State and the CSTO, that is, a Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and these aspects seem to be covered by that Treaty. Somewhat earlier he said you agreed to provide assistance to Minsk at his first request.

What is meant by “these aspects”?

Vladimir Putin: There is no need to hush up anything.

Indeed, the Union Treaty, that is, the Treaty on the Union State, and the Collective Security Treaty (CSTO) include articles saying that all member states of these organisations, including the Union State, which consists of two states only – Russia and Belarus, are obliged to help each other protect their sovereignty, external borders and stability. This is exactly what it says.

In this connection, we have certain obligations towards Belarus, and this is how Mr Lukashenko has formulated his question. He said that he would like us to provide assistance to him if this should become necessary. I replied that Russia would honour all its obligations.

Mr Lukashenko has asked me to create a reserve group of law enforcement personnel, and I have done this. But we have also agreed that this group would not be used unless the situation becomes uncontrollable, when extremist elements – I would like to say this once again – when the extremist elements, using political slogans as a cover, overstep the mark and start plundering the country, burning vehicles, houses, banks, trying to seize administration buildings, and so on.

During our conversation with Mr Lukashenko, we came to the conclusion that now it is not necessary, and I hope that it will never be necessary to use this reserve, which is why we are not using it.

I would like to say once again that we proceed from the belief that all the current problems in Belarus will be settled peacefully, and if any violations are permitted by either side – the state authorities and the law enforcement personnel, or the protesters – if they exceed the framework of the law, the law will respond to this accordingly. The law must be equal for everyone. But speaking objectively, I believe that the Belarusian law enforcement agencies are exercising commendable self-control despite everything. Just take a look at what is happening in some other countries.

Does this satisfy those conditions?

The main impact is that this statement should help solidify the siloviks around Lukashenko, who can now be reasonably assured that they would be thrown to the wolves in the event of a complete Maidan.

However, it also confirms that these “reserve policemen” will only be deployed in the event of a violent takeover of the country. The obvious rejoinder being that if the siloviks do not stage a mass defection, then there’s no other way of kicking out Lukashenko.

So what we are left with is agitated Belorussians coming out en masse, in numbers too large to be broken up. They are largely leaderless, so there’s only so much that targeted arrests of protest leaders (as is the current tactic, in contrast to the mass police thuggery of the early days) can accomplish. Anecdotal reports that I hear suggest that the size of the protests are subsiding, perhaps down by half from peak; conversely, however, those protesters who do continue going out constitute the more oppositionist elements, who may be expected to keep it up for weeks and months to come.

If the siloviks stay with Lukashenko, while the opposition continues to dominate the streets during daytime, we may be left with a long stalemate between the two factions.

This hardly presages wonderful news for the economy. The strikes have shut down production at Belaruskali, one of the world’s biggest potash producer, and have already incurred the loss of many contracts. That said, at the macro level, it has weathered recent events relatively well to date, notwithstanding the anticipatory excitement of some online commenters. Foreign currency reserves remain at close to $9 billion, barely down from a month ago, even if this was only accomplished by means of a $1.25 billion Eurobonds issue just before the Presidential elections (it appears that Lukashenko was smart enough to foresee trouble). And even that appears to have been balanced out by reports that Russia agreed to refinance $1 billion worth of Belarusian debt. I would assume that Russia isn’t doing this for free.

Comments

  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

  2. If the goal is real union or reintegration when that should be achieved? During next couple of years?
    If things continue as usual I think that it’s inevitable that Belarus will become more Westernised. EU soft-power is real, although it needs time. And EU will be there, anglo-saxon media constant-BS aside.

  3. blahbahblah says

    I hate to say it, but the way Putin is going about diplomacy reminds me how how he managed Ukraine circa 2013. And how we got to this point is because how Luka was acting like Yanukovych.

  4. Felix Keverich says

    And even that appears to have been balanced out by reports that Russia agreed to refinance $1 billion worth of Belarusian debt. I would assume that Russia isn’t doing this for free.

    Like I said before, Lukashenka’s survival means that Russia ends up footing the bill without getting anything concrete in return. At the very least, we should have secured permanent military presence in the country. If Lukashenka is against it, that means he isn’t desperate enough, and doesn’t really need Russia’s help. If Putin is against it, he is an ultimate betabuck.

  5. Thulean Friend says

    The situation in Belarus is rapidly deterioating. Now that putlet has taken a public stand in favour of regime survival, Russia will eventually have to foot the bill. “Eventually” means sooner rather than later in this context.

    https://www.intellinews.com/belarus-is-running-out-of-cash-190534

  6. Mike_from_Russia says

    It was extremely informative to get acquainted with the political program of the opposition. Now it is in the web archive, because it is wildly Russophobic and seems to have been written somewhere in Poland. Now this program is widely cited both in Russia and in Ukraine as a terrific version of the road to economic nowhere.

  7. a tough act to follow says

    But speaking objectively, I believe that the Belarusian law enforcement agencies are exercising commendable self-control despite everything.

    By threatening to rape defenseless cute girls in the forest. Keep pushing with that tough-love Russian soft power, Vladimir. Alienating populace of another Slavic country in a <10 year time-frame will surely put you in Russian historical canon.

  8. The Ukraine had a much sharper devaluation, even the Turkish lira a couple of years ago, than what has happened with BYN/USD to date. And as I pointed out, what matters is trends, that $9 billion in reserves Belarus is barely down from last month. For context, $9 billion is more in per capita terms than Ukraine’s $28 billion (if modestly lower as % of GDP).

    I actually agree with Felix Keverich that the much greater risk at this point is that Luka offers no permanent concessions and Russia is left holding the bag, both money and reputation wise.

  9. From what I am hearing from people I know in Belarus Luka’s support even among the older (60+) people is degrading. This must be well known to the Russian side, it seems the only way he is going to come out of this is very weakened.

    Given that, I thought Russia was stepping in now to offer this assistance basically as a way of having a role in shaping the direction of the transition.

  10. Perhaps Lukashenko can be persuaded to do a Yeltsin: appears on TV, exhales, and says “I did my best but I’m tired and I’m retiring”, and some local mini-Putin or macro-Medvedev takes over until the new elections.

    Or a referendum about entering the Russian Federation, and from then on gubernatorial level elections by Russian law. Compared to Belarus now it’ll be like a +10 level political freedoms.

  11. From the Slavland imageboards:
    https://2ch.hk/po/src/39407998/15986160767813.jpg

  12. Ben Aris is wishful thinking.

  13. Lars Porsena says

    Defenseless cute girls? She seems like the Belarussian version of a lesbian antifa terrorist to me. What’s up with the crew cut and the green hair?

    Non-antifa terrorist zmagarists should look like this:

    https://static01.nyt.com/images/2019/06/30/world/30Belarus/28Belarus-02-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600.jpg

    They don’t need to make up rape allegations because people actually want to screw them.

  14. Politics of the southern Baltustan will start to bark against the “evil dictator” soon. LOL

  15. …Luka offers no permanent concessions to Russia…

    The demonstrators would not be thrilled by any concessions to Russia’s side, so offering them would lead to escalation. The same happened in Kiev – loan from Russia, etc… Luka has mismanaged the situation by playing both sides, very similar to Yanuk’s idiotic pre-Maidan rule that openly aspired to square a circle.

    The best thing for Belarussians now would be to slow down and change players. West is not coming to their help, not financially nor in terms of ‘joining EU‘ – look at the Ukraine’s experience, all slogans all the time.

    West’s soft power is formidable. West makes good first impression; one could say that West specializes in great first impressions. That works on cute young maidens, until they realize that the car is rented, house mortgaged, no commitment is coming, and the same titillating game has been played many times elsewhere. Unfortunately, even after that many young maidens prefer to lie to themselves, something to do with human pride. The emotional hangover can last a lifetime, so there are no good choices here – it was baked into the cake.

    Managing people who yearn to be somewhere else, or even to be something else than what they are, is a thankless task. We can have sympathy for Putin who in his weary ways seems to understand this. West will eventually collapse due to its internal conflicts and incoherence. Until then maybe ignoring a few romance novels and counting the silverware is not such a hard thing to do. By the way, how many more Belarussias are hiding in the eastern forests and steppes?

  16. Daniel Chieh says

    Trad terrorist girls need bulky outfits to disguise bombs as baby bumps.

  17. Lars Porsena says

    Perhaps. I should have wrote it non-antifa-terrorist zmagarists, maybe. But they might be trad terrorists which in my mind only makes them more desirable.

  18. Putin seems to have a problem with dealing with politics outside of the sphere of personal relationships. Kuchma was the last Ukrainian leader that Putin had a close personal relationship with and things have been going south every since.
    Comparing Luka to an utterly worthless and incompetent POS like Yanukovych is unfair though.

  19. I’m wondering.

    If/when he finds one the opposition thing may come apart as the three demands they have are a kind of minimal program holding it together and any serious new candidate would fulfill them quite easily.

    Maybe the constitutional changes mentioned by Luka and Putin could be used to make the system align more closely with the Russian one.

  20. Just take a look at what is happening in some other countries.

    Ouch. Take that, POTATO-US & NATO.

  21. A rabid neocon very last sentence rant in this one:

    https://nationalinterest.org/feature/why-lukashenko-will-prevail-belarus-167937

    Like the US should really be so heavioly involved in that part of the world.

  22. Felix Keverich says

    You gotta respect their will to power, contrasts so heavily with Kremlin cuckoldry.

  23. Viktor Babariko currently in jail could be brought in as pro Putin person just like el-Sisi was brought in as anti Muslim Brotherhood (pro Israel and pro US) person.

  24. Will to power because their impotent yapping and chest beating?

    We just saw the “will to power” in action a couple of days ago in Syria

  25. Felix Keverich says

    Are you retarded? They are winning. They own Belarussian opposition.

  26. I should ask you the same question…either that or your living in an alternative reality

  27. Philip Owen says

    Tikhonovskaya doesn’t even want the job.

  28. “Like I said before, Lukashenka’s survival means that Russia ends up footing the bill without getting anything concrete in return.”

    That kind of thinking, Jewish-merchant, Anglo-utilitarian kind of thinking, is not always the best way ahead and it’s narrow-minded. Just listen to Putin:

    “I replied that Russia would honour all its obligations.”

    Honour thy obligations, isn’t that enough?

  29. A rather clumsy effort at that, which has been largely ignored in Anglo-American mass media on account of what actually happened and the fact that Russia is a formally invited foreign party in Syria unlike the US forces there.

    Related:

    https://irrussianality.wordpress.com/2020/08/27/harassment/

  30. “..the fact that Russia is a formally invited foreign party in Syria unlike the US forces there…” – Good point however Syria seems to be a territory anybody can enter and bomb. While Russia showed some involvement to push out Turkey forces it is rather silent about Israel frequent bombings of Syria. The S-300 that allegedly were sold to Syria haven’t been engaged once. Syria seems to be quite powerless to stop bombings by Israel and it seems to many that Russia is really in cahoots with Israel.

  31. Gerard1234 says

    the way Putin is going about diplomacy reminds me how Putin managed Ukraine circa 2013

    Why? What did he do wrong? He concluded a perfect deal, effectively rescuing Ukrainian economy as the EU was offering a shockingly bad deal, guaranteeing disaster…. and making it near certain that Ukraine would join Eurasian Economic Union – a major policy objective for Russia. All this as Russia about to host the perfect Winter Olympics – a huge soft power weapon.

    Putin can’t be blamed for not anticipating the freakshow actions from Banderastan that followed this – he’s a politician not a psychiatrist.

    Where we have strong soft power/ people-people relations etc as in Montenegro, Moldova and Bulgaria….. nothing positive happens for us from their prostitute of US governments

    Where we have good or powerful relations with with the leadership or elites of a country…. then colour revolutions get created or some scandal gets created by Atlanticist media. Its impossible to change this unfair situation

  32. Thanks…

    BTW, Putin and Trump seem to be pretty popular with anti-lockdown protesters in Germany

    https://ibb.co/7rkyBbF
    https://ibb.co/3rC77FZ

  33. …What did he do wrong?

    He played the game by Western rules that West no longer observes. I agree with you that Russia largely got what it could out of the Ukraine’s crisis – but it was very messy. And given the geography, it will be very destabilising when the consequences of Maidan hit. But there were no good choices in 2014.

    Its impossible to change this unfair situation

    The game is rigged and has no rules, so why is Russia still unthinkingly in it? Too many in Putin’s generation want to have it both ways – they want to be an accepted part of the Western world, that’s their biggest weakness. West will use it much more going forward because they have almost nothing else left. The weary smile on Putin’s face betrays that he knows it – he also knows that he can’t change it.

  34. The problem for Russia is it lacks soft power due to it’s terrible economy, which is due to the massive corruption that pervades every aspect of economic activity in Russia. The current government in Belarus’ days are numbered. If Russia does not take bold action to annex Belarus, it will be in the EU/NATO orbit soon. It’s hard to see this happening, both because of the cost to Russia in terms of increased sanctions and because Putin is fundamentally reactive, not proactive. It looks like an EU oriented Belarus is all but certain at this point. No doubt, massive efforts to overthrow Lukashenko are being planned and organized by the US and EU right now.

  35. another anon says

    The problem for Russia is it lacks soft power

    Easy solution – promote old Soviet culture. This will be popular world wide 😉

    https://twitter.com/sovietvisuals/status/1299625336137805827

  36. Gerard1234 says

    One of the worst examples of what you say is the “doping” scandal. Putin should have pre-emptively attacked the nonsensical Mclaren report by doubting its integrity and openly raising the possibility of Bandera diaspora scum in Canada or FBI of working on it ( translations,interviews and “investigation”). That would at least force the opposing side into a more honest and transparent investigation……and make westerners think more if they know the possibility that psycho banderatards are premeditively making the report against Russian athletes. I would not be surprised in a few years time it will be revealed that it was a group of Bandera diaspora creating this farce.

    Rodchenkov in FBI witness protection should have been made clear was an unacceptable ,political act making any investigation unreliable and compliance from Russia impossible. You can’t be ” in fear of your life” ……and then be slandering and working against Russia so publically…..or be in custody of a major political rival and direct sporting competitor. Putin is trained in law so would know that Russian side not being able to speak to him or interrogate in court,then it makes any concept of defence impossible….and that even a hint of credibility is lost when not any sign of any criminal investigation into any Russian official is made by the west ( this at least is what the US did against FIFA , in an equally political legal-farce)

    The best VVP say did was some lazy nonsense about the unfairness of collective punishment and needing an open investigation.

    The problem is that if it not Putin saying something then retard western media have no interest in it. Many masterpiece comments from Lavrov,Zakharova,Zhirik and other Russian commentators they don’t give attention to unless liberast. He has to be restrained diplomat and main promoter of the country at the same time. Except for Lavrov and Zakharova most of the best english-speaking Russian experts have either bad English level….and/or are 5th column clowns.

  37. Philip Owen says

    Russia took bold action in Ukraine. Ukraine is now preparing to join EU/NATO. More generous, less aggressive action, the Russian blockade precipitated the shift, could have still kept Ukraine neutral or in the EaEU. Putin thought Yanukovich was bought and paid for. He treated him with contempt. He let Glazaeyev posture like a cockrel. Result, disaster.

    Conspiracy theories about the EU/US are not necessary. Lukashenko has reached his sell by date. Even his supporters find him boring. Both sides in Belarus appear to be commmitted to their own independence before anything else.

  38. Boswald Bollocksworth says

    These protesters need water. Leave pallets of bottled water inexplicably near them. The water contains small amounts of well-tolerated sedatives or opiates. Turn the volume from 7 or 8, down to 5 or 6.

    Plant pro-globohomo agitators among the protestors. They will wave gay banners and NATO/EU flags. Offer all of the protestors free one way tickets to Berlin. The numbers of people protesting are pretty small in the grand scheme, they need to just not live in Belarus if they find the situation so intolerable. There’s basically no plausible scenario where Belarus ends up substantially better off than she is today, so perhaps they’d prefer life in the west.

    Lastly, I wonder if there’s a role for the church to play? Does the ROC have the same prestige in Belarus as it does in RF?

  39. The funniest part of the ‘doping crisis’ was the picture (I wish I could find it) of Maria Sharapova and the Williams ogre, juxtaposed side by side, with of course the Russian girl accused of ‘doping’ and the obvious chemical ogre celebrated. Precious hypocrisy.

    There is universal justice in the complete collapse of the global sports world, incl. the Olympics with corona. As if the idiocy and absurdity of the Anglo-driven and self-declared fairness couldn’t stand any longer.

    I suspect other areas where West threw out its own rules – from currencies to journalism – will experience similar collapse. Nature abhors moron behaviour justified by stating one’s ‘virtue’. So that’s where we are, it will get bumpy. And no Olympics for anyone…it seems about right.

  40. Thulean Friend says

    So, today’s events:

    1. Tanks and APCs spotted moving into Minsk.
    2. Protesters nearly storming Lukashenko’s residence.
    3. ~100K on the streets in the capital. No sign of letting up.
  41. Yes, the best possible options haven’t often been utilized.

  42. She’s a dumb bitch, not much else to say.

  43. Actually, people haven’t talked enough about Glazaeyev (Shoigu himself has patchy record) or various retards that have been creeping into Putin’s government. Although the most the disastrous probably comes from the outside cowboy stunts of Igor ‘Strelkov’, an obscure romantic idiot who managed to drag state apparatus of Russia along with him, a great job in losing the sympathies of nearly the whole Ukrainian population forever from the Kremlins.
    Yes, Ukraine is a fake country, but this isn’t how you go about reabsorbing it.

  44. McFaul’s Idea of Scary

    Re: Below Tweet from the overly promoted at the JRL (Johnson’s Russia List) homepage Michael McFaul

    He corrects himself by noting that Igor Rybakov is no longer with the Russian government. Two pro-Russian Belarusians were prevented from participating in the recent Belarusian presidential election. Lukashenko apparently thought that he’d get by okay without them.

    As for “scary”, Ryabkov’s aforementioned comments aren’t scarier than those of the disproportionately propped minority of the anti-Lukashenko opposition. Their blatantly anti-Russian desires, were taken down upon the realization that expressing such isn’t tactically wise.

    Between what Rybakov said versus the extreme anti-Russian element which McFaul hasn’t characterized as scary, the former is the more popular in Belarus.

    https://twitter.com/McFaul/status/1299849493161021440

  45. Gerard1234 says

    I can’t find the exact one that had some very funny text, but here are two similar examples

    https://twitter.com/chelsea0254/status/759035615673479168/photo/1

    https://twitter.com/A_Linovich1992/status/706949184780427264

    Hilarious.

    The things is we had effectively won the argument with the “fancy bear” hacks – but it got us absolutely nowhere in this insidious, repetitive anglo-us controlled global media.

    US “patriotic” doctors , of course just give them every performance-enhancing drug under the cover of “Therapeutic Use Exemption” …and them give them some more drugs, not even under TUE cover, just to make sure.
    Without shame , for years, the most famous US sportstars – Marion Jones in Athletics, that guy who did the home run record in Baseball, Lance Armstrong in Cycling together with numerous scandals in American football and Basketball – have took part in large-scale, prolonged doping and been the major players in extremely lucrative advertising. ts a system as corrupt and sick as is possible…..but we are the ones targeted.

    I remember the very small Justine Henin regularly annihilating the Williams transvestites/”sisters” – but after that they took their doping to new levels with their very “feminine” 180 km per hour serving
    As typical for alot of these fakes, the Williams “sisters” are supposed to be Jehovah’s witnesses, which should have made some of their drug-taking/injections forbidden

    I guess you are a tennis fan? – Czechs and Slovaks must be per capita the greatest tennis players in history

  46. Gerard1234 says

    https://twitter.com/chelsea0254/status/759035615673479168

    Sorry about the two-times post, Karlin

  47. Yes, Ukraine is a fake country, but this isn’t how you go about reabsorbing it.

    And “reabsorbing it” within a reconstituted Russian Empire will somehow make it less “fake”? At what point, in your opinion, does a”fake country” pass from being fake into becoming a real country, or once anybody refers to it as being fake, does this descriptor gain permanent validity?

    Just answer one question for me please, how is it that millions of people feel that they’re a part of this”fake country”? Have they all been misled, and by whom? My parents were born and identified themselves as being Ukrainian, were they duped and living under false pretenses?

  48. Thanks, those pictures say it all. I recall having a discussion with an anglo friend (in London) around that time and he simply shrugged it off with ‘those are the rules‘ and then mumbled something about us easterners not being diligent enough with process paperwork and that somehow that was a ‘leftover from communism’….

    So there you have it, Sharapova messed up on her paperwork, while zillions of Anglo athletes diligently filled out theirs, e.g. the honourable Norwegian skiers all suffered from asthma, therefore steroids were ok.

    My response was that Anglos invented the whole concept of ‘fair play’ (and advertise it about themselves heavily) because they lack natural honour, they lie and cheat and they do a lot of paperwork to hide and obfuscate it. The result is that the Olympic movement was dealt a fatal blow even before corona – nobody cares for self-aggrandising blowhards. In a beautifully just way, corona then ended the charade. Too bad, but those are the fruits of pathological hypocrisy. In the meantime Williams is probably going to ‘dominate’ US Open the way a 25-year weight-lifter would dominate in a fight with small children.

    I do like tennis, a small aside: the great generation of Czech and Slovak tennis players came out of free coaching and heavily supported government sports programmes – lately, it has been not so good, only the likes of me get to play :)…

  49. easterners not being diligent enough with process paperwork… from communism

    She has been living in America since after she was 6 years old. So you can see how silly people would believe her mistake with paperwork, could be somehow transmitted from Russia, or related to attitudes of bureaucracy under communism (where there was actually more strict paperwork about many things than today).
    Look at 1:05:

    Determination of her parents who sacrificed their live and emigrated to America just to train their daughter to become a tennis prodigy, could be seen as perhaps partly result of Soviet mentality. In Soviet times, there was also a lot of emphasis on the idea of the child prodigy, aside from the prestige of sports.

    But there are the same kind of parents and cultural emphasis in America, and not less prestige for sportsmen. Part of the history of tennis is a proxy battle of will between crazy, determined parents, through the child prodigies they can produce.

  50. …you can see how silly people would believe her mistake with paperwork, could be somehow transmitted from Russia, or related to attitudes of bureaucracy under communism

    Westerners are generally very silly people, they believe stuff about others that borders on implausible.

    One way we can differentiate among people is in their preferred way of stealing. There are dramatic differences, e.g. Latins are sneaky and will climb into your house to steal a silver pot and lie to your face about it. Blacks always steal confrontationally. Anglos via an elaborate process paperwork. Germans create a thieving structure where the dispossession is built into the rules. Russians in my experience can be shifty and unreliable, and will steal if they can, but they tend to by lazy and half-hearted about it and often experience guilt. Anglos never do.

    The way societies steal is an essential part of their civilisation. That is one of the issues with supranational institutions like the Olympics – they are gamed by some ethnics, while others end up with less. Russians are not rule makers, but they are among the more diligent rule followers, that exposes them to the Anglo perfidy, Latin two-faced lying, and German unyielding structure. We can see it today as a parody with BoJo the preachy talker, Macron the sneaky lier, and Merkel as the solid enforcer. These patterns seldom change.

  51. It started.

    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/6136722.html

    The integration process seems to be hurrying.

  52. But does Russia really wants to ‘reabsorb’ Ukraine?

  53. May be just Novorossia.