Belarus will be the next target of Kremlin — experts

Moscow is preparing for the “hard” version of the “hybrid war” against neighboring countries, including the possibility of armed revolution and the introduction of troops. So say the leaders of the Belarusian Center for strategic and foreign policy studies — Director of the center Arseniy sivitsky and program Director of Russian studies at the Yuri Tsarik.

According to analysts, the “reset” of relations between Moscow and Washington is not as obvious as it seems at first glance, but the coming to power of Donald trump in any way beneficial to Moscow. It on some time “off” the US from active participation in world politics in relation to the administrative confusion and political conflicts inside the American establishment.

Arseny sivitsky believes that the arrival of trump power in America sows discord in this country.

“First of all, it is about making political and military decisions. The policy direction of trump and his intentions to relations with Russia may lead to the dysfunctional NATO and undermine the policy of deterring aggressive intentions of Russia, and also to the possible conflict between the U.S. and China. Perhaps it is now the main threat to international stability and security,” — said sivitsky.

Yuri Tsarik highlights: the game itself is to “reset” reflects the position of not all the supporters of the trump in the United States.

“In Russia a very powerful elite group focused on the failure has not yet begun “reboot”. It is connected including with internal reasons. Any prospects of rapid economic growth in Russia, and the possibility of increasing international tensions on the background of a certain “paralysis” of the US and NATO for them looks pretty tempting. It is also important that the price that will put Washington in a “new reset”, can be very expensive for Moscow, because it is, apparently involves the inclusion of Russia in action against Iran and China,” he said.

Nevertheless, experts agree on the idea that the initial warming of relations of the Kremlin with a new US administration is very likely.

“If possible “reset” the biggest threat is Russia may attempt to dramatically increase their advantage in the international arena by force. Highly probable use of force by Russia against Belarus, Ukraine and other countries with the aim of turning them into “failed States”. In the event of a possible conflict — even while maintaining NATO as a working structure Russia has an advantage at least at the first stage,” warns Arseniy sivitsky.

Yuri Tsarik, in turn, is more optimistic.

“Of course, the victory trump leads to a decrease in the level of intervention of the us administration in the events in Eastern Europe, and hence to the reduction policy to curb the aggressive intentions of Russia in the region. On the other hand, this threat creates a window of opportunity for Ukraine and Belarus. If we can survive under this pressure, our country is not only held as a state, but also will lay the basis for a new system of international relations, at least in this region. Russia is promoting its own model of such relations in which large countries have their sphere of influence and interact with each other, not interested in the opinions of small countries. It’s almost in plain text indicated in the Russian strategic doctrines. Such a model is unacceptable to the peoples of sovereign States, and in the current situation we have a chance to change it,” he says.

Belarus is the most likely next target of the Kremlin

With regard to the specific expected actions of Moscow, analysts agree that their country will be the aim of the new Russia’s “hybrid war”.

“If we talk about the possible next step of the Kremlin, it could be an attempt to organize a coup in Belarus. The intention was to use this event as a pretext for the introduction into the Republic of its troops and the organization of their permanent presence in the country. Essentially, this means the elimination of the sovereignty of Belarus. In this case, Belarus will turn into a kind of military-political bridgehead of Russia and a source of “hybrid” threats to neighboring countries: Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. In the worst case, this could be the beginning of full-scale war of Russia against these countries. If NATO will to mobilize and prepare to repel the attack, Moscow might get to use tactical nuclear weapons in the region. This scenario was laid in a recent war game in Warsaw in which I participated” — suggests Arseniy sivitsky.

Yuri Tsarik said that the new conflict is necessary to the Kremlin.

“Russia is approaching the presidential elections, to go to which Putin is not. A new important conflict in Russian society, the area would have played into the hands of the Kremlin. We see how the Russian media are preparing public opinion for such an option,” — said the expert.

However, the Minsk analysts believe that the success of possible Russian aggression in Belarus is not predetermined.

“Despite the great influence that Russia has in Belarus in the economic, cultural, information against, and even against the Belarusian special services, Moscow’s chances of success is not so great. The Belarusian military and political leadership has quite a realistic representation of intent and action plans of the Kremlin. In connection with this work and the corresponding methods of resistance. For example, now spends complex check of readiness of the army with a call of about three thousand reservists. Therefore, in the military aspect of Moscow’s chances of a repetition of the Crimean or Donbass scenario is very low. Moreover, we have fully taken into account the experience of Ukraine, and even in case of worst scenario and failure of the Supreme commander to manage the troops, the armed forces still be left without orders”, — said Arseniy sivitsky.

Attempts of political influence

In Yuri Tsarik noted: there are very visible signs that Russia is increasing its pressure on Belarus inside the Belarusian political field.

“Just a few weeks ago, we observed enhanced attempts to convince the public that military and political pressure from Russia does not exist. Now, on the contrary, there are attempts to fan the hysteria and to swing the issue. Some people who publicly describe themselves as nationalist, anti-Russian forces, apparently, and spend the Russian money, and are active in the regions, obviously, creating the stage for a possible “hybrid” of the confrontation. However, their activity is tracked.

The Belarusian leadership is indeed developing all possible variants of development of events, including in the economic sphere. Scenarios are calculated until the introduction of temporary economic blockade by Russia.

The Russian party uses various tactics to increase its influence in Belarusian politics. For example, in hardware circles spread the information that in Russia there are allegedly part of the elite, ready to abandon the “hard” scenario. The idea is that the Belarusian authorities are supposed to accompany such movements and help them to increase their influence in Moscow. This is a typical installation that Moscow broadcasts to divert attention from their real policy, and thereby mislead the government and society post-Soviet countries and Europe. In fact, the Russian elite in the power aspect operates within a solid consensus, and every time he begins to disintegrate, a win is still win the supporters of a tougher line”, — said Yuri Tsarik.

However, with all these above and the channels of influence, experts estimate chances of Moscow in Belarus for success below 50%.

“A key aspect is the military preparation to repel a different kind of aggression and attempts to stir up internal conflict. Add to this the need for economic reforms and rapid diversification of the economy. And, of course, Belarus and Ukraine should be ready to come to each other’s aid. The development of strategic relations between our countries now means that we will not leave each other in trouble. In addition, we are developing very productive relations with Poland” — noted analysts of Minsk.