Minsk is lagging behind, if Moscow will try to draw it into the Syrian adventure

Unlike previous years, today Belarus is not in a hurry to protect odious regimes. Also, the official Minsk is clearly no desire to engage in foreign military adventures in Moscow.

The authorities have shown restraint in the Syrian issue, not wanting to complicate its international position.


Russia offers to send to Syria military observers

July 5, Alexander Lavrentyev, the head of the Russian delegation at the talks on Syria in Astana, said that Russia approached the CIS countries with a proposal to consider the question of sending military observers to monitor Syria.

The reaction of the Belarusian side has been very careful. While any official proposals on this score have been reported, said the head of the information Department of the foreign Ministry Dmitry Mironchik. He noted that in accordance with the law of Belarus and the agreement on the peacekeeping activities of the CSTO to send such a contingent should be on the basis of the mandate of the UN security Council.

I must say that this is not the first attempt to drag our country in the events in Syria, just before they were taken seems to be informal.

So, a couple of years ago in the Russian marginal media began to sound suggestions to make Alexander Lukashenko to send back its troops. Say, why at the airbase in Mamimi still not billeted a couple of flights of fighters of the Belarusian air force, Reaffirming the brotherhood in arms.

However, the Belarusian authorities have not demonstrated the slightest desire to participate in the middle East adventure of the Kremlin. Moreover, there is information that they sold to us special operations forces 700 anti-tank missiles, which ultimately had to be sent to Syrian rebels.

The best times of cooperation with Damascus in the past

At first glance, the behavior of the official Minsk does not look quite consistent. You may recall, for example, the vigor with which the Belarusian official leader defended Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi.

However, this support was almost exclusively verbal, except to declare the willingness to grant some of those caught in the difficult situation of the rulers for political asylum. (By the way, among politicized Belarusian public was actively discussed and thrown Moscow’s “Kommersant” version that Minsk can shelter Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.)

Moreover, until relatively recently, the urgency of the situation around Syria do not let the Belarusian leadership to attempt to revive the bilateral cooperation. In particular, in February 2015 the Minister of foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei paid an official visit to Damascus, where his companions were the President, Prime Minister, Minister of foreign Affairs, representatives of business circles and even the President himself.

At those meetings the task was to restore the old ties in political, trade-economic, cooperative, scientific-technical and humanitarian spheres.

And the restore was because at the time Syria was on the forefront among Belarusian partners in the region. Lukashenko has twice visited it, in 1998 after meeting with the previous President Hafez Assad, and five years later, with his son.

Senior Syrian representatives such as Parliament speaker, foreign Minister and Prime Minister, has consistently been in Minsk an audience at the highest level.

But the most significant was, perhaps, the visit of Bashar al-Assad in Minsk in July 2010. In the joint Declaration it was noted that bilateral cooperation has received considerable impetus, and confirmed the intention to bring relations to the level strategic partnership.

Belarus and Syria continually provided each other support in international organizations, mostly fighting against accusations of the UN Council on human rights.

Some success has been achieved in economic cooperation: bilateral trade has grown from 2.1 milliondollars in 1999 to 85.5 million in 2008, although by the time of the visit, Assad the younger, he was reduced almost by half — to 47 million.

Finally, according to the Stockholm Institute for peace studies SIPRI, in 2006-2010 Belarus was a major supplier of arms to the Syrian regime.

Forced withdrawal from the position

So really, the Belarusian authorities have decided to change the strategy in dealing with problem regimes, and if so, why?

Appears to talk about a fundamental revision of the foreign policy concept is somewhat premature. This is evidenced, for example, may interview Assad ONT TV channel: the Syrian President called our country “responsible” as it is, they say, fulfills obligations, and “declaring the same as in the beginning of the crisis”.

At the same time it is obvious that the Belarusian leadership in the Syrian issue faced complex challenges.

Note that, on the one hand, an ally of Damascus, in addition to Russia, is Iran, with whom the Belarusian authorities traditionally good relations.

On the other hand, in antiasadovskuyu coalition includes Turkey, a series of rich (unlike Syria) monarchies of the Gulf, USA, UK, Canada, Germany, France and other Western countries. There are long-term partners, and those countries with which Belarus is interested to improve relations.

Besides, despite all efforts, in cooperation with Syria did not manage to reach the set targets. For four months of the current year the mutual trade volume amounted to 6.5 million us dollars, having decreased almost three times compared to the same period last year. Exports fell even more.

Due to severe need for external financial assistance to Minsk not from a hand to quarrel with any of the parties. And in terms of the aggressive policy, Russia demonstrated, it is possible, even more important seems the political support of the West.

In other words, pragmatic considerations take precedence over ideology, forcing careful. Accordingly, there is serious doubt that the last call from Moscow is heard.