Analytical Report: March 2012.

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The most important factors which have influenced the political situation in Belarus, have been both the ongoing diplomatic conflict and the end of the presidential campaign in Russia. It should be noted that the presidential elections in Russia haven’t led to the consequences, expected by Belarusian authorities (the escalation of the confrontation between Russia and the West, especially USA). Fast and unconditional acceptance of the results of elections in Russia by the Euro-Atlantic community has become a kind of “cold shower” for the official Minsk. Belarusian authorities didn’t expect such a situation and had no plan of actions for it. Currently, Belarusian authorities are quite confused, especially in light of the prospects of opening of NATO traffic centre in Russia’s Volga region. Although it is only a perspective for the future, and the presence of military personnel there is also doubtful, the very discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of the Belarusian foreign policy, which can be even a breakpoint in it.

At the same time, certain circles in the Belarusian government have made every effort in order to exacerbate the conflict with the West. At the same time, this strategy is counterproductive mainly for the regime, as it puts the country into complete dependence on the Kremlin. Against this background, there is growing evidence of the predictions by independent analysts: cooperation between Belarus and China doesn’t have the results, which the Belarusian party counts on. China has consistently advocated solely its own interests. In fact, the hope for the emergence of a “third party” in the Belarusian issue (along with Russia and the West) has failed.

It should be noted that the political confrontation between Belarus and the West does not affect the intensity of military exchanges and contacts. The latter, taking into account the sensitivity of the military sphere, is an indirect indication of unreadiness of the parties, especially Belarus, to give up the ship.

Belarusian authorities have still a certain time reserve, which, however, dries up. The financial state of the country is vulnerable, the state needs a massive external support.

The internal situation: stability of state power. In March Belarusian authorities were not only intransigent in their confrontation with the West, but also openly provoked the EU to make harsh counter steps. In this case, the behavior of Belarusian authorities looked badly planned, which indicated a low level of management decisions even at the highest levels. Simultaneously, the authorities for the first time in a long time were forced to defend themselves against accusations of opposition associated with the construction of an industrial park in Minsk region in cooperation with China.

In general we can say that the Belarusian authorities expected worsening of relations between Russia and the West as a result of the presidential elections in the neighboring country. But this didn’t happen. The reaction of the U.S. and the EU was quite positive, congratulations to Mr. Putin on his election as President came from Western countries quickly, there was no public debate about fairness and transparency of the elections. Thus, there were no extension of the field for political maneuvering for the Belarusian authorities (which has been hoped for in Minsk) has not happened. That’s why the return to the tactics of “swing” качелей is now impossible. It’s also necessary to take into account the fact that during the election campaign, Mr. Putin made some promises, that would require additional funding of at least 1.5% of GDP.

Currently, the pricing environment for oil facilitates the flow of money into the Russian treasury, but the volatility in global commodity markets could result in reduced revenues and the need for the Russian government to seek additional sources of funding for its program promises. At this rate the rent of Belarus can be cut. With the expected reduction in the cost of potash, and the actual closing of the Western debt markets for Belarus for political reasons, the only source of compensation for lost income is the privatization of state property. However, the sanctions from the West are causing downward pressure on the cost of Belarusian assets. On the other hand, the preservation of the public sector of economy has been traditionally regarded as a guarantee of Belarusian regime’s maintaining control over the political situation in the country. As we have repeatedly pointed out previously, the state is the major employer in the majority of Belarusian regions, and the threat of layoffs of civil activists and their families is used as a method of political struggle.

Speaking about the prospects of privatization of state property, it’s necessary to admit that the top bureaucracy isn’t likely to cooperate with the government, which is expected by a number of analysts. Top bureaucracy acts more as a collective opponent of Lukashenka and his inner circle, which we have pointed out repeatedly. It is doubtful that in this situation, the ruling group starts to strengthen a potential enemy.

In March, the authorities began to make alive the threat about limiting the possibility of visiting foreign countries for some opposition activists in Belarus, which was previously claimed. It should be noted that the effectiveness of this scheme is quite questionable because of the open border with Russia. Even if Russia is to follow the orders of the Belarusian government to limit visiting third countries through its territory for some politics, that can’t prevent the opposition to hold their meetings and activities on the territory of Russia and outside the control of Belarusian authorities. It’s essential to emphasize that no agencies have officially claimed their responsibility for the formation of the opposition “travel ban list”. The latter, on one hand, can be seen as a tactic to make the contestation of the “travel ban” more difficult, and on the other hand it may be a manifestation of the position of officials, who don’t want to associate their names with the atrocious decision. In general, the “travel ban” will have the opposite effect: the people, subject to the sanction of the authorities, will get more attention from foreign partners, which may lead to expanding of the resource base of their activities. So, the measure, that was intended to be an act of repression against opponents of the regime, will eventually lead to their strengthening.

On March 17, 2012 the shooting of Mr. Kovalev (and later Mr. Konovalov), found guilty of committing a terrorist act in Minsk 11.04.2011, was reported. This decision has political consequences. The point is, that at the moment in the society there is no united opinion about the completeness and objectivity of the investigation and the trial. Law enforcement practices for the implementation of capital punishment in Belarus can be characterized by the fact, that dates of the entry of the sentence into force and its execution can be separated even by a couple of years. So, such haste in execution of the “terrorists” would play into the hands of proponents of the theory, that the terrorist attack has been organized by the authorities. At the same time it’s necessary to underline, that earlier Viktor Lukashenka (the son of President Alexander Lukashenka) was told to be the organizer of the attack by some independent analysts. But at the same time there were no proofs and evidence for that. However, the shooting of convicted Mr. Kovalev and Mr. Konovalov, will rise the new information wave on the involvement of the authorities in terrorist attack and an attempt to hide this.

It is clear (in particular for the authorities) that the shooting of Mr. Kovalev and Mr. Konovalov means a loss in the battle for public opinion. In this case, there is a question about the reasons that prompted authorities to make a decision with clearly negative consequences. It is also necessary to note, that before the report about the shooting of Mr. Kovalev, an information campaign with the purpose to explain the inability to pardon convicted persons in order to preserve the political image of the authorities, took place. The organizers of this campaign were the people, who previously were accused of collaboration with the Belarusian intelligence agencies in the field of misinformation.

It is obvious that the shooting of Mr. Kovalev and Mr. Konovalov, as well as the pressure on opposition politicians have left the West no choice but to expand restrictive measures (March 23, 2012) and to support the resolution, adopted by the European Parliament.

Immediately after the adoption by the EU of the next round of sanctions against members of the Belarusian authorities and business circles on March 23, 2012 Belarusian analysts (both pro-government and opposition ones) recognized the sanctions to be ineffective, because they do not lead to a paralysis of business entities they were to effect. Meanwhile, there is no reason to believe that the EU has expected to disrupt the activities of the companies from “black list”, while taking this decision. The consequences of sanctions will be obvious in the medium term as the close of the access to Western debt markets for Belarusian companies. In addition, the loss of reputation of the country is enormous: the Government plans to involve international corporations with high reputation and relevant technological basis into the privatization of Belarusian state assets in the field of mechanical engineering were just buried.

Regarding the decision of the EU on March 23, 2012, it’s essential to admit two points. Firstly, since the event was expected, Belarussian side used tough rhetoric, threatening to give a proportionate response. The answer turned out to be commensurate with the possibilities: Belarus has imposed a ban on the import of cattle from the EU. Secondly, the EU’s decision didn’t satisfy any of the three political groups in Belarus: the authorities and both wings of opposition (radical and moderate). Reasons for dissatisfaction of the government are obvious. Moderate opposition fears that the EU decision would strengthen Russia’s role in the country. The radicals, in turn, are dissatisfied with the limited range of measures taken by the EU.

At the same time all three groups are assessing the foreign-policy situation in Belarus inadequately, as they are considering Belarus as one of the key states in the region, in which the West and Russia are highly interested. This thesis is wrong: Belarus is a peripheral state, and we must frankly admit that now it doesn’t play an important role in international politics. This position in the geopolitical arena can be easily observed. In our opinion Belarus can be interesting for Russia only for three reasons:

— Claim to be a great power requires the presence of allies;
— Belarus serves as a kind of advertising of integration projects within the CIS framework for Ukraine;
— Representatives of the Russian financial and political circles are interested in purchasing some of the Belarusian state-owned assets in the most attractive conditions.

In this regard, the expectations of “international battle for Belarus” are useless. It is more likely that our country may be considered to be “a suitcase without handles” and left alone.

It should be noted, that economic sanctions and visa restrictions are not the only field, where the West could create problems for Belarusian authorities. According to the UN Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention), the EU could block construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. This act was ratified by the European Union and 47 countries, most of which are included in the EU or are candidates for membership in the EU. Thus, the probability of blocking the construction of nuclear power plants through international legal procedures is high. In our opinion, the controversy around the construction of nuclear power plant Belarus has commercial character: four nuclear power plants are under construction or are planned to be build in the region (Poland, Russia, Belarus and the Baltic countries). In this case, three latter projects are catering for the export of electricity to the foreign countries.

Despite the forecasts of the growth in electricity demand, the bringing into operation of the four nuclear power plants can lead to the situation, when the supply excesses the demand. This will reduce the commercial attractiveness of projects. Taking into consideration the scale of investment involved, the prospects for export of electricity become an important factor in determining the recoupment of the projects. Otherwise, the cost of servicing the loans for building nuclear power plants will have to be paid from the state budgets of countries-customers. Speaking about Belarus and the three Baltic states, it could become a very big problem for them. The best variant in this situation is the union of the projects and the creation of a consortium of four countries on building and operating of nuclear power plants. However, it is now impossible because of political situation.

It’s also essential to note another point connected with the aggravation of Belarusian-European partnership. The joint projects in Belarus, funded from the EU funds, were stopped. But they were the source of enrichment for a number of representatives of the Belarusian top bureaucracy, while in the framework of these programs the relatives and family members of Belarusian officials were employed to high-paid attractive jobs. All this took place with the approval of the European functionaries, in fact it was an indirect “bribe” for senior Belarusian officials from Europe.

At the same time, we note that in March it has become clear that the integration of the former Soviet Union is far from being successful, and there even in the Customs Union there is no unity. This became obvious at the summit of the Eurasian Economic Community on March 19, 2012. In general, the prospects for Eurasian integration don’t have the consequences, that the official Minsk counts on. The constant pressure on Belarus to enter a self-restriction of exports of dairy products in Russia should be mentioned here as well. In general, contrary to official rhetoric, Russia is not considered to be a reliable partner for the Belarusian authorities. However, the problem is, that at the moment Belarus has almost no foreign partners at all.

The campaign “Tell the truth!” continues the attack on the Belarusian-Chinese industrial park and initiates a local referendum on the territory of Smolevichi district (Minsk region) on the opinion of the people for the construction of the industrial park. It is obvious that the authorities will not allow holding the referendum under any circumstances, as its result is clearly known: no promises and assurances will be able to overcome the prejudice of Belarusians about the Chinese. In general, the situation with the Chinese investment allows the opposition to take over the theme of patriotism from the authorities.

In fact, if the officials continue to act without consulting the local population, they risk to get the status of “fifth column” and betrayers of national interests. Inflexible position of the authorities can cause very active protests among local population. Using the force against its own citizens in order to protect the interests of foreign investors with a dubious reputation would be a political disaster for the authorities. At the current moment we can see the defeat of government from the opposition in information field.

On March 14, 2012 it was reported that the British law firm “McCue & Partners” on March 6, 2012 address the requests to the Ministry of Justice of Italy in connection with the alleged visit to this country by the Belarusian KGB Chairman Vladimir Zaitsev. There was a request to clarify the fact of the visit of Belarusian official to Italy and the reasons why he hadn’t been arrested in accordance with international UN acts. British lawyers accuse Mr. Zaitsev of hostage taking and torturing of opponents of the regime. The company “McCue & Partners” acts on behalf of the families of the repressed.

It should be noted that we have repeatedly underlined the possibility of such situation, when Belarusian officials can be prosecuted on the basis of rules of universal jurisdiction, recognized by a number of Western countries. It is unlikely that such initiatives will lead to the arrest of functionaries of the government in Western countries because of their diplomatic immunity. However, the next step could be the relators’ submission of claims for compensation for material damages by the Belarusian authorities, which could paralyze the trade with the West. At this rate the arrest of Belarusian assets (both state and private, if the owner collaborates with Belarusian authorities, which means always) abroad is highly probable.

The internal situation: the opposition and the protest movement. The actions of Belarusian opposition players in the political field in March were largely predetermined by two events:
— the forthcoming elections to the House of Representatives;
—  conflict between Belarus and the West, especially with the EU.

It should be noted that the month was not rich in events. During March, the opposition organizations, except “Tell the truth!” reduced activity among the population. In fact, most organizations are now at the stage of finding new ways of working with the voters in order to expand their social base. In addition, the discussion on the participation in the upcoming elections among the opposition also influenced the situation.

At the moment only supporters of the boycott (for example, an active boycott campaign of the BCD or “for fair elections without Lukashenka” campaign of UCP) have decided about their actions during this election campaign.
Against this background, one of the most significant events in opposition policy was the 14th Congress of the United Civil Party.

In March, the Belarusian “third sector” continued the series of scandals, which have traditionally been initiated by Nikolai Khalezin. On March 14, 2012 he posted the information about the conduct of coordination meetings of public organizations in Warsaw. The meeting participants were accused by Mr. Khalezin of actual lobbying interests of Belarusian regime in the West. It should be noted that the meeting wasn’t secret, but, for obvious reasons, the information on the subject matter and its participants wasn’t spread.

It should be noted that in February, Mr. Khalezin was one of the initiators of the scandal, involving the initiative of the “Office for Democratic Belarus”, about change of the approach of the EU to visa restrictions. Earlier, in November 2011 he announced the project “Conceptual provisions of the project “The organization of the parliamentary party “A new political power”, which de facto jeopardized the leaders of the campaign “Tell the truth!” and some senior officials from the “liberal wing” of the regime.

The documents, released by Mr. Khalezin, could not be obtained through open access sources. Therefore they are likely to be transferred to him by Belarusian security services. Continued use of this information indicates a desire of the Mr. Sannikov’s team, including Mr. Khalezin, to play a decisive role in the development of the West’s position on the “Belarusian issue” by discrediting the more moderate “competitors”.

In conjunction with this it’s necessary to consider the initiative to create a kind of “refugee government”, which would be claimed to be the representative of the national interests of Belarus. In our opinion, this initiative is adventuresome and doomed to failure, because the lobbyists of the “refugee government” project from Belarusian politicians do not actually have an active organization within the country. And this idea won’t be supported among those opposition groups that have such organization. Moreover, the only authorized representative of the nation abroad can be the BNR Rada. Belarus is the only post-socialist country, preserving the institution of the foreign “government”. And while BNR Rada has no real influence on the situation in the country, its authority is absolute because of the political tradition, which is evidenced by the ban on visiting Belarus for members of Rada.

At the same the motivation of Belarusian officials, who have provided the materials, that can eliminate the supporters of the dialogue with Europe from the political process, to Mr. Khalezin is still unknown. In addition, it should be noted that only senior officials could give the orders on the transfer of operational intelligence materials. Earlier, we pointed out the existence of groups in the Belarusian government, that are interested in the preservation of international isolation of Belarus as the most acceptable way for them to preserve their own power and privileges. In this case, the persons, who bear at least a significant responsibility for repressions, and some radical opponents of Lukashenka are situational allies with a common goal: a rigid isolation of the regime, which, according to the first, should preserve their privileged status, and, according to the second, should lead to the breakdown of the regime.

One of the most significant events of the month was the 14th Congress of the United Civil Party, which is currently the largest opposition party in the country. However, its capacity in recent years has decreased significantly. It is also connected with the fact, that the same personalities are ruling the organization for a very long period. The main event of the Congress was the fact that Anatoly Lebedko saved the position of the party leader. According to our information, a struggle for the post of party leader should have taken place. Opponents of Mr. Lebedko tried to get financial resources to deprive him of leadership. But judging by the fact that the election of party chairman was sham, Lebedko’s opponents were a failure, and Mr. Lebedko confirmed his status of a “heavyweight” in Belarusian opposition.

In addition, the congress resulted into some rotation in the party management. However, people who got the positions in the management could be regarded as only relatively new. In addition, it is doubtful that they have political power. The point is, that the influence of opposition politician mainly depends on his ability to get financial resources. At this rate, the access to finance has critical importance for keeping high status and in most cases is jealously guarded, even from closest associates. Only the time will show, whether the new members of the governing bodies of the UCP will get independent figures at least at the party level. We really hope for this, as the Belarusian opposition needs new independent personalities. And during the last two years, new faces could be seen only in the “Tell the Truth”.

At the same time it should be noted the position of Movement “For Freedom” (hereinafter referred to as MFF), that is the traditional rival of “Tell the truth!”, has notably weakened, especially in the information field. According to available information, the MFF intends to use the forthcoming parliamentary elections to promote the “People’s Program” — a project of alternative future of Belarus. These tasks were put before the members of the organization, who are hypothetical election campaign participants.

The attempt to unite the campaigns, created to monitor the forthcoming elections (“People’s control — for Fair Elections” and “For Fair Elections”) failed.  It is mainly connected with interpersonal relationships of the politicians.

At the same time it’s necessary to admit, that the possibilities of both campaigns are quite limited: the claim, that the campaigns are ready to send their representatives to at least 30% of electoral districts, mean that in practice the total number of polling stations, where the monitoring will be carried out, won’t exceed 5-7 stations per each district. And there are 250 stations across the country. It’s necessary to take into consideration, that there were 6390 polling stations during the election campaign in 2010.

Economic situation. According to the results in January and February, the GDP continued to grow, although the growth slowed down from 3.6% to 3.0%. Key factors of this growth have been described in the previous analysis (growth in some sectors like petroleum refining and building due to the low level at the beginning of the last year and the peculiarities of the calculation, as well as the growth of the volume of unsold finished goods). At this rate GDP in the coming months GDP growth should slow down. And GDP can even begin to decrease.

Against the background of positive operational statistics in March, medium-term prospects of the Belarusian economy are not really good, which is connected with the need to service external debt over the next three years.

The discrepancy of nominal GDP growth rate to real change in business activity in the economy is shown by monthly monitoring of the real sector of the economy, conducted by the National Bank. According to this study in February, the economic situation assessment has worsened (52.6% of the surveyed enterprises assessed market conditions as unfavorable, a 43.9% — as favorable). At the same time the majority of respondents claimed the fall in domestic and external demand, the decrease in the physical volume of output and capacity utilization, and growth of unsold goods.

Budget implementation is almost at the planned deficit-free level (in February it was implemented with a deficit of 0.5% of GDP, after a surplus of 4% of GDP in January).
An improvement is observed in the banking sector (the problem of lack of equity capital is being solved, the proportion of “bad” assets is decreasing, risk of loss of interest is decreasing with the inhibition of growth of deposits). Stabilization of the situation was also reported by “Fitch”, which in March confirmed the ratings of 7 Belarusian banks, although the forecasts for them were negative.

At the beginning of March it became obvious, that there would be no new IMF lending program for Belarus this year. This program was previously considered by the authorities as a source of debts refinancing. Belarus formally refused from filing an application to the directorate of the Fund, since it can’t be accepted without taking a specific set of economic measures by Belarusian authorities (toughening of fiscal policy, wage restraint, a significant increase in tariffs for public services), and without political dialogue with the EU and the U.S.. Moreover in the second half of March, the conflict with the EU deepened and resulted in the adoption of sanctions against 29 Belarusian private companies.

The direct economic impact of these measures is small because the companies, influenced by the sanctions, do not play an important role in the Belarusian economy. However, they cause significant damage to an image of the country and actually “kill” the possibility of attracting capital from the European bond market (the imposition of sanctions led to the fall of Belarusian Eurobonds’ quotes and to increase in their profitability to the prohibitive 12-13%) as well as attracting resources from international financial institutions.

Blocking the ability to attract funds from the West, Belarus began to have difficulties in the East. In particular, there was disagreement on the third tranche of the AF EEC loan in the amount of USD 440 million, which was planned to be provided on February 28, 2012. According to the Belarusian authorities, the difficulties are connected with a desire to toughen the requirements of anti-crisis fund in the field of minimum level of gold and currency reserves and privatization programs. In fact, the requirements of the AF EAEC are to prevent the attempts of Belarus to avoid the fulfillment of privatization obligations, which is a key part of the anti-crisis program (for example, during 2012 Belarus is obliged to sell state property worth at least USD 2,5 billion). The situation can result in conflict with Russia, as the program of large-scale privatization is currently rejected by Belarusian authorities.

Simultaneous non-receipt of the IMF loan tranches and the suspension of the EurAsEC loan will create the critical situation in Belarusian economy in 2013-2014, which can be overcome only by selling of government property valued at about USD 6-8 billion in a relatively short period. In other words, there are no real alternatives to privatization, and Belarusian authorities should preserve “family silver” in the state property, selling just medium-sized enterprises. However, a program or even a concept of restructuring the economy has not been formed yet, which increases the risk of causing significant damage to national interests in case the situation develops in a negative way.

The situation in the field of national security and defense. In general, the events of the month are the continuation f the tendency, which is characterized by a degradation of national security and defense not only because of economic factors, but because of poor quality of public administration. Even some positive moments aren’t able to brake this tendency.

A certain sensation in March was a public announcement (even in not clear and straightforward form) of the most acute problems faced by the military establishment. In today’s Belarusian reality it is an extraordinary event.

Another noteworthy fact of the month was the curtailing of cooperation with Sudan in the field of security.

The most pressing issue of the Belarusian Army is personnel problem. It is not only about a shortage of personnel, but also often about the poor quality of the staff. There is decrease in the level of entrants to the Military Academy. At the moment the Academy is entered by those people, who earlier could get only secondary vocational education, because of their educational level. However, the training of students doesn’t meet the demands of the Army. The graduates are not able to perform duties independently after graduating from the Military Academy and require a guide. Meanwhile, due to poor funding Army has been experiencing the outflow of the best trained personnel to the civilian sector for a long time. The staff shortage in the number of units is 20%. The situation is also aggravated by the fact, that after the first five-year contract the young officers who are already capable of performing the tasks on their own, often refuse to sign the next contract and leave military service. In some regiments the number of such situations is about 60%. At the same time the situation can’t get better in the foreseeable future: Mr. Lukashenka’s orders to resolve the issue with the increase of salaries for employees of law enforcement agencies and military officers didn’t result in some actions.

Moreover, the staff of Investigative Committee don’t receive prescribed extra pay for their duty (at least, in the Minsk region). This is explained with some organizational issues. However, there are reasons to think that the real reason is the lack of funding for the new agency.

In addition, the adoption of up to 20 items of new and upgraded equipment and weapons by Ministry of Defense annually turns out to be just a formality. New items come in small quantity or even in single copies. Often the military officers even don’t know anything about them. At this rate in March the Ministry of Defense had to organize a meeting of military leaders in order to report them about the possibilities of new weapons and the very fact of their existence. However, even purchased weapons and military equipment often cause criticism for the quality and ability of the supplier to carry out timely maintenance of new products.

Training for the territorial defense forces (hereinafter referred to as TD) on the basis of the mechanized brigades finally started. From March 29 on the basis of the 19th Guards Mechanized Brigade specific training sessions with people liable for military service and attached to the TD units, have been held. Within 10 days more than 150 soldiers can to improve their skills. It’s necessary to remember, that the size of TD forces was declared to be 120,000 people. Thus, for the training of all personnel of the territorial troops, in the situation of a continuous learning process on the basis of the National Army mechanized brigades will require at least 6 years. In the end, at best TD will be partially ready to perform limited military functions. The situation can only be changed by increasing the financing of the territorial defence forces. However, the Belarusian authorities continue to believe, that it is a cheap version of the regular army.

In this situation Belarusian authorities could not find something better than starting to sell military equipment and hardware, which, by its technical condition is still quite suitable for the use by own armed forces. Thus, last summer Belarus sold to China five transport airplanes IL-76: two military versions “MD” from the National Air Force and three civilian versions “AP” from the company “Transaviaexport”. According to the information, the airplanes are in good condition and could serve at least 10 years. The reason for selling them was the failure to maintain the airplanes, or to organize their commercial usage. The latter seems quite strange against the background of the fact that, for example, the Gulf countries, seeking to diversify their economies, consider the air transportation market as a priority. Belarusian officials seem to have decided not to bother about the organization of effective business processes, but simply to get rid of the hardware.

According to our information, Belarus decreases the level of cooperation with Sudan (with its capital in the city of Khartoum) in the field of defense and security. The most likely reason is the reluctance of having additional complications in relations with the West in light of the expected war between northern and southern Sudan. We don’t consider decreasing cooperation with Sudan in the field of security to be a move towards the West, as the cause of the conflict with the West is concerned primarily with the political situation inside Belarus. It’s essential to admit, that failure to cooperate with the country, that until recently has been regarded as a key regional partner for Belarus, will have a certain result. In fact, Belarusian authorities once again confirmed their unreliability as a strategic partner for developing countries. Although it should be noted, that in this situation of international isolation and limited resource base, this move of the authorities is adequate and the only right one.

The unmanned aircraft system (hereinafter referred to as UAS) with a radius of 300 kilometers continues to be developed in the framework of state scientific-technical program. At first the new complex will be used by the Ministry for Emergencies. It is expected that next year the Ministry receives the UAS, able to perform all the functions of monitoring and surveillance of the terrain. If the system has the possibility to send information in real time, it can be used in the field of national defense. The start of using Belarusian UAS with smaller radius of action, development of which is currently being finalized by experts of the National Academy of Sciences, is expected by the end of this year. It is essential to emphasize, that despite the fact, that the very development of the UAS with a radius of 300 kilometers is really good news, it won’t help in the field of national defence. The point is, that at the moment there is a lack of ground-based systems, having fire damage comparable range, in Belarus. Creation of a new UAS can be as a stage in the creation of Belarusian military UAS.

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