Analytical Report: October 2012.

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Modernization of the political system, the reform of the public administration system and modernization of the real sector of the economy were the ground of the underlying trend of October. Belarusian authorities understand that change and increase in the efficiency of the entire state mechanism is needed. But it is doubtful that the current Belarusian leaders are the people able to answer the question about the necessary actions in this situation. And it is even more doubtful whether among them there are those, who are willing to take responsibility for the steps, many of which are highly unpopular and painful. Perhaps the collapse of the entire structure of the existing state is the only chance for a meaningful and effective reforms, that will be extremely painful in the short term, but will be able to create an effective and dynamic state system in the long term.

In any case, not depending on the decisions made by Belarusian authorities, an expansion of the opposition’s field of activity shouldn’t be expected.

In October, the trend of expansion of Belarus’ participation in the system of collective security in the post-Soviet space continued. It is clear that the main factor of the real threat is the prospect of destabilizing the situation in Afghanistan, but not NATO missile defence. However, taking into consideration the Belarusian realities, the main threat is not the crisis in Afghanistan, but the prospect of involvement of our country into it through a system of CIS collective security. To ensure the security of Belarus the primary issue is the establishing an effective control on the eastern border, but not a demonstration of readiness to send Belarusian soldiers to the Central Asia.

The internal situation: the stability of state power.

Major events of the month. Overall, in October the most important events were the claims of modernization and reform of the public administration system. However, no any specific plans were announced by the authorities. On October 1, 2012 at a meeting with the Minister of Internal Affairs Alexander Lukashenko said nothing concrete and stated the duty of law enforcement agencies to set the service above personal interests and pay less attention to their material and social status. Note that a consumer society, when the ideological motivation and self-sacrifice, at least in the absence of the emergency can’t be expected, was formed in the country by the efforts of the head of Belarus. According to the words of Alexander Lukashenko at the moment the basic idea of ​​the state apparatus reform is to reduce its size by 25-30%. But it’s not about the adjustment of functions and tasks of the government.

In fact, Belarusian authorities expect to get more compact (and therefore better controlled and monitored) officialdom while keeping intact all of its powers. It’s necessary to admit, that the reform of public administration is really essential: as we mentioned earlier, according to the research of Presidential Administration, only about one third of the top political officials’ decisions are performed properly (on time and within budget). Currently, the situation is rather worse. Just note the situation around the “Dazhynki 2012” festival: the construction work, despite the fact that the event belongs to the category of national and is controlled by the first person in the country, were performed with outrageously low quality. Such was not possible even last year.

On October 12, 2012 the creation of a state commission to develop proposals for optimizing the structure, size and function of government was announced. It is planned that by the end of the year the Commission will present its recommendations to President Lukashenko to optimize the structure of the state apparatus. It’s essential to note that the Commission will be headed by Mr. Kobyakov and Mr. Petkevich, who can be roughly classified as liberals in power and even more roughly – as the officials, focused on the development of relations with the West. It should be understood that they have no real influence on the situation. All the decisions will be made personally by President Lukashenko.

The development of the situation over the last month. Continuing the thopic of modernization of Belarusian State, it should be noted that special attention is to be given to the statement of Mr. Lukashenko about the necessity to support the pro-government political parties. It must be emphasized that, if the majority of the opposition political organizations show a low level of capacity, the overwhelming majority of pro-government parties exists only on paper. However the very issue is interesting: Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly spoken negatively about the prospects for the formation of the “party of power”, naturally considering it as a possible gravedigger of his own political future and achievements during his reign Belarus.

On October 1, 2012 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Mr. Makey took part in the first ministerial meeting of the Small countries Forum. There the Belarusian official had discussions with the representatives of number of states: both the West and the Third World. It should be noted that the official report of Belarusian Foreign Ministry mentions names only of representatives of Western countries: Clinton, Ahtisaari, Jacobs.

Despite the signs that the Belarusian authorities are interested in restoring a dialogue with the West, there is no reason to believe that the EU refuses to demand the release of political prisoners and their legal rehabilitation. On October 4, 2012 the official representative of Belarus was removed from the meeting of the Political Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, dedicated to the “Belarusian issue”. At the end of the event a statement, demanding the immediate release of political prisoners and their rehabilitation (the latter is an unacceptable and impracticable condition for the Belarusian authorities), was issued. Note that the Belarusian authorities didn’t make any retaliatory steps and statements in connection with removing of their representative from the meeting. Perhaps, the official Minsk began to realize the vulnerability of its position. In this situation, the success of the Belarusian foreign policy can be considered the fact of non-expansion of restrictive measures by the European Union after the elections to the House of Representatives. However, preservation of the current situation is a maximum, which can be expected by the official Minsk, ignoring the conditions put forward by the EU for the resumption of dialogue.

At the same time last month some new factors of growth of the Russian-Belarusian conflict, that are more difficult to hide behind the screen of official optimism, appeared. Moscow is trying to use traditional and most effective form of blackmail against Minsk — the oil. In general, the situation is developing just according to our prediction at the first quarter of this year: the Russian-Belarusian conflict is fundamental, and compromise can not be sustained. Russian actions are logical and consistent in terms of pressure on Belarus: the situation in our country makes it quite attractive for the Kremlin to pressure in order to get the absolute control of a military potential of Belarus (which is important in the situation of 30% of the shortage in Russian Army), and to redistribute the Belarusian state property in favor of the Russian bureaucratic clans.

In October, the main enterprises in Belarusian confectionary industry: “Spartac” and “Kommunarka” were actually nationalized. Without going into the details of how the factories came into the hands of a foreign owner, and whether he was a conscientious owner, it’s necessary to note that this fact, in our opinion, is aimed primarily at depriving of the material base the high-ranking Belarusian top bureaucracy, the reliability of whom is doubtful and there is no opportunity to eliminate them (at least from the government). We can not exclude a transfer of the enterprises to the new owner, whose loyalty won’t be doubtful for Belarusian authorities.

At the same time, on October 25, 2012 Alexander Lukashenko demanded to improve the management of the companies with the part of state capital. In this case it is about bringing order to the use of public property, which, in the situation of continuous growth of corruption, becomes a source of enrichment for its individual users. The regime faces the task of creating a system of management, which would not allow the the political opponents to the financial base. That is, we are talking about the prospects of non-transparent privatization among the narrow circle of officials and the “court” business, while maintaining control over the loyalty of the new owners and the constant threat of expropriation by the government. With this purpose, the authorities initiated the appointment of chairmen of the supervisory boards of large enterprises with the state share.

At the same time, it is necessary to admit the strengthening of anti-corruption rhetoric by Mr. Lukashenko. But, this resulted only in a couple of resignations. Despite the accusations of a number of officials in the abuse of power and enriching using the resources of the State, all the accused by Belarusian leader are still not punished. Perhaps, the situation will change. The point is, that the financial and economic situation remains fragile, even within a six-month prediction. The resources of the regime to ensure populist economic steps are limited. So, the anti-corruption struggle is a natural process to maintain at least the current level of popular support.

Conclusions. Despite the reformist statements of Belarusian authorities about readiness to hold not only the reform of public administration but even political modernization, it should be clearly understood that the Belarusian regime will take only steps that will:

— improve the efficiency of public administration;

— restore complete control over the bureaucratic apparatus, reverse the trend of growth of its corruption;

— maintain absolute control over the political process in the country, that is preserve state power in the hands of the ruling group.

In this case, we can expect attempts to indoctrinate certain social groups whose loyalty is critical to maintaining the state system — the law enforcement agencies. However, this attempt is doomed to failure, the group morale in Belarusian law enforcement agencies authorities is mostly low. And this is the result of the lack of a coherent state ideology. And the attempts to rely on the Soviet ideological myths and clichés in a modern, open society are rather obviously useless.

We can assume that now there is some confusion among the Belarusian authorities: it is quite clear that the preservation of the existing system of government has become more difficult. And this task at some point may become impossible. On the other hand, they have no idea of ​​how to improve the efficiency of power-political model created by Lukashenko, while maintaining full control of the situation in Belarus. But we want to admit that this is actually an impossible task. Existing political system has entered a period of systemic crisis and disintegration. A lack of reforms can lead to the collapse of the entire state mechanism established by the Belarusian leader. And reforms are impossible without a redistribution of power between institutions, and between separate personalities.

The internal situation: the opposition and the protest movement.

Major events of the month. In October, the discussions about the elections to the House of representatives continued among the opposition. The attempts of opposition to challenge the election results predictably ended in vain.

At the same time, the opponents of the regime continued the search for the direction of further activities and building coalition structures with the consideration of the presidential election of 2015.

Overall, October was not rich in events, the most important of which was the statement of the United Civil Party about not recognizing the results of privatization. On October 5, 2012 UCP issued a statement reading that all privatization deals, made by current authorities, are politically vulnerable and may be revised in case the change of the ruling regime. UCP suggested other opposition organizations to support the statement. However, at the moment no organizations have given a clear response.

It’s necessary to note that, despite the low capacity of the opposition to influence the situation in the country, the statement of the UCP can be one of the limiting factors for participation in privatization transactions of foreign investors, guided by Western standards of business conduct. Such a statement indicates a lack of guarantees of safety of property in the event of a change of political regime. And with the political isolation of Belarus, the current system of government can’t be regarded as sustainable in the long term.

The development of the situation over the last month. Authorities don’t reduce the pressure on the opposition organizations, forcing them to adapt to such environment. Thus, the BCD, after repeated refusals by the Ministry of Justice to register the organization officially, decided to register regional structures as NGOs just with the combination “Belarusian Christian Democracy” in their name. In order to minimize the risk of failure to register, the documentary of BCH organizations was based on an already existing constituent documents of Movement “For Freedom” (hereinafter referred to as MFF). At the same time, the probability that BCD organizations will be registered, is extremely small: both the registration of MFF and the denial of registration to BCD are result of a political, not a legal decision of the authorities. BCD is now positioning itself as an uncompromising opponent of the regime and the opposition groups that have a conciliatory attitude towards it.

In October, the campaign “Tell the truth!” continued to organize the offices of its “Civil contract” initiative in the regions of Belarus. It is planned to open 18 ones. Based on the campaign statements, the main tasks representative «civil contract» will be:

— Legal assistance to the population;

— Pressure on officials to make them address local problems;

— The consolidation of its own activists in the field;

— Raising recognizability of the campaign leaders in their regions;

— The involvement of local people in community activities through a joint solution of urgent problems;

— Structuring the supporters and adherents of “Tell the Truth!” in the field.

At the same time partner of “Tell the Truth!” MFF considers its “People’s program” to be a priority project. The organization’s leaders don’t hide ambitions to transform the program into a platform of opposition candidate in the presidential election of 2015. Thus, in October it was reported about the intention to involve experts from Russia and the former socialist countries of the EU into work on the “People’s Program” and its evaluation. In the case of implementation of these intentions, we can expect a full plan of transformations in Belarus, based on concrete experience of reforms in other countries. The document may turn out to be valuable because of the fact, that it may be the only one of its kind in Belarus. However, it is doubtful that the MFF can provide a wide promotion of the “People’s Program” because of its small size. And it’s not the fact that other political organizations will be interested in supporting this MFF initiative.

At the moment Belarusian opposition is developing a number of documents that are to be programs. In addition, there are active discussions of the need to develop a strategy for opposition organizations. However, the main problem is not the lack of policies and programs, but the lack of people who are able to promote and implement these programs. The number of opposition groups is small and very few new people join them. Resolving these issues depends on the management of the organizations. Support of foreign experts is powerless here.

Conclusions. It should be noted that if the UCP initiative on privatization of state property by present authorities finds support among the opposition, the plans of Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich to include Belarusian state-owned companies in the multinational chains can be buried. In addition, such statements can’t be a reason for optimism of potential creditors of Belarus: it all really complicates attracting external credit on reasonable terms.

Up to now there is no signal that the government can mitigate internal policy. Rather, the opposite can be expected: in the face of the next financial crisis regime is interested in the “clean-up” of the political field. Moreover, opposition groups risk to be repressed simply by virtue of their existence regardless of the activity or a real threat to the existing order. The very fact that the decline in the efficiency of public administration and the systemic crisis in the country there are people, who position themselves as an alternative to the current government, is already a danger and requires pre-emptive actions. At this rate, the maximum pressure on the opposition is an appropriate and logical policy of the regime. It should be expected not only refuse to register the organizations of the political opposition, but also increase the pressure on the activists, using the rules of law, which establishes liability for acting on behalf of an unregistered organization.

The coalition of campaign “Tell the Truth” with MFF, which is forming now, is worth paying attention. Firstly, the leaders of these institutions have overcome personal animosity (at least at this stage), which is unusual in Belarusian politics, where the factor of interpersonal relationships is essential. Secondly, the creation of a network of offices of “Civil contract” actually means creating partylike organizational structure of “Tell the Truth!” in the regions of Belarus. This is especially interesting in connection with the renewal of discussions on changing the system of elections to the House of Representatives from a majority to the majority-proportional. It’s necessary to admit here, that candidates from the “Tell the truth!”, even according to official data, got on average 10% of the votes in districts where they took part in the elections. Taking into consideration the cooperation of “Tell the Truth!” with MFF and the presence of party ambitions in both organizations, there’s a hypothetical situation, when before the elections in 2015, both organizations may merge into a single political party. The ideological platform for this will be provided by the “People’s Program” of MFF, and organizational one – by representatives and offices of “Tell the truth!” in the regions. None of these opposition groups is able to transform itself into a political party because of failure to comply with the legal requirement of a minimum number of party members of 1000 people. But together they can be able to do this.

Economic situation.

Major events of the month. A positive result was the fact that in October the Government placed currency bonds on internal market: first acquisition in the amount of about USD 100 million at an interest rate 7.5% was done by “BelVEB” bank. It was also announced, that the government would consider the possibility of placing foreign currency bonds for the population. Of course, the internal debt market is quite promising, as the rates, which are acceptable for the Government (at 7-8% per year), are much higher than the average in the market of foreign currency deposits (about 5%).

In October, a mission of IMF experts on post-program monitoring of the economic situation in Belarus visited Minsk. Formally mission specialists are not authorized to negotiate on new programs of cooperation, but communication with them is still considered as an opportunity to start meaningful negotiations with the Fund by Belarusian authorities. However, at a press conference after the visit, the representatives of the IMF mission clearly stated that the new talks with the Belarusian authorities are possible only after the development of the plan for deep structural reforms (including price liberalization, the strengthening of private property rights, the development strategy of restructuring and privatization of state-owned enterprises), approved by the head of the country. Taking into consideration the position of Mr. Lukashenko on these problems, we can admit the lack of real prospects of getting a new IMF loan.

The development of the situation over the last month. In September, there were no significant changes of the public debt of the country, its servicing was carried out in normal mode (for example, the next payment on IMF loans totaling to USD 183,7 million was made), and there were no new substantial borrowings.

Foreign exchange reserves in September changed slightly, despite a substantial net demand of both business entities and the public in the foreign exchange market in the amount of USD 611,3 million. The positive trend in prices for gold and other precious metals helped to cover the lack of reserves used as interventions in the foreign exchange market.

In September, international reserves of the Republic of Belarus (as defined by the IMF SDDS) decreased by USD 15,2 million, and on October 1, 2012 amounted to USD 8,126 million in dollar equivalent. According to the national definition, the international reserves increased by USD 70,5 million and on October 1, 2012 amounted to USD 8,829 million in dollar equivalent.

Not everything is good in relations with main EurAsEC AF donor — Russia. In October it began pressure on the leaders of Belarus. The first step of it was a 22% cut in current oil supply. And then the media started to promote the view that Russia should cut oil supplies to Belarus the following year from 21.5 million tonnes to 14-15 million tonnes. Then the information, that at the request of the Russian authorities Belarus is to compensate for the loss of the Russian budget in the amount of USD 1,5 billion from the re-export of Russian oil products under the guise of thinners and solvents, has been published.

In October, there was some reduction in the ruble money supply due to the tightening of the monetary policy of the National Bank. This tightening was intended to prevent panic in the foreign exchange market and had to stop the attack on the ruble by banks, businesses and individuals. Thus, against the background of devaluation expectations related to the election and increase of income, banks have started to increase the currency position, the businesses have increased the demand for ruble loans, and the people began to convert their assets into foreign currency. As a result, the foreign exchange market formed a substantial balance of net sales of foreign currency by the National Bank. In such circumstances, monetary regulator decided to increase the required reserve ratio on funds and, against the background of growing shortage of ruble liquidity, almost completely abandoned bank support operations (although, technically, such operations must be available to banks on the first request and on the ever-available basis). As a result, the rapid growth rates on ruble assets in all segments of the money market started. The increase in the attractiveness of ruble allowed to reduce the pressure on the foreign exchange market, and in the end of October Belarusian ruble wasn’t weakened against the dollar and even a little bit strengthened against the multi-currency basket.

The government continues to maintain quite tight fiscal policy, which resulted in a substantial budget surplus of around 2% of GDP the first 9 months of 2012. The same policy is declared for the future as well, as in the current law on the budget for 2013 revenues and expenses are completely balanced (though, for the amount of USD 880 million by the next tranche of the EurAsEC AF loan). This surplus allows the Government to strengthen financing of the real sector of the economy and further stimulate economic growth, which in the first 9 months of 2012 was only 2.5%, not even reaching the planned level of 5-5.5%. Overall, however, the current plans like the plans for next year (the approved development forecast for 8.5% GDP growth) can be implemented only in case of a sharp easing of fiscal and monetary policies, which may negatively affect the financial stability country.

Which of these alternatives will be chosen by the country’s leaders? This is really difficult to predict. However, the facts, that in October President Lukashenko paid most attention to the stability of the national currency and that during the enlarged meeting of the government on November 2 the issue of the failure to ensure GDP growth wasn’t even discussed (the main focus was made on export growth and modernization of enterprises), suggested that short-term economic growth would be sacrificed in order to save financial stability.

Conclusions. It is highly probable, that the cause of information attack by Russia on oil issue is the desire to make the Belarusian authorities to fulfill the obligations on the privatization (according to EurAsEC AF anti-crisis program, Belarus is to sell state property to the amount of USD 2,5 billion by the end of 2012). At the moment, the Belarusian authorities actually sabotage the implementation of this program. Moreover, several attempts of the government to speed up the privatization were blocked personally by President Lukashenko. The lack of privatization and other formal violation of EurAsEC AF anti-crisis program (rapid growth of the credits in the economy, low reimbursement for housing and communal services, etc.) are likely to lead to serious negotiations with the management of the Fund on the allocation of the next tranche of the loan, which is to start in the coming months.

The actions of the National Bank to preserve stability of the exchange rate reflect continuing influence of supporters of financial discipline in the authorities. Despite the fact that such measures clearly counter the plans of economic growth, the National Bank is not going to give them up. On the contrary it is considering the possibility to raise the refinancing rate in November despite initial plans to reduce it to a level of 20-23% by the end of 2012.

National Security and Defence.

Major events of the month. In general, in October the involvement of Belarus in the strategy of possible participation in operations abroad in the troop of the Collective Security Treaty (hereinafter CSTO), and first of all — in Afghanistan, continued. Apparently, the CIS countries have some concern about the upcoming withdrawal of ISAF troops from Afghanistan: there are not many reasons to hope that the current regime in Kabul is able to survive without western troops. However, the ability of the CSTO to guarantee the safety of southern border of its members, if the Taliban will decide to do “march to the North”, is even more questionable. This fact doesn’t prevent the CSTO Deputy Secretary-General Colonel Vladimir Semerikov from claiming the possibility of the Collective Peacekeeping Forces’ entering Afghan territory. It’s necessary to note that if we were talking about the Collective Rapid Deployment (hereinafter RRF) units, it was still possible to understand such claims: special forces of the CIS countries regularly take part in the performance of special tasks in the northern provinces of Afghanistan (for example the operation of Russian units to combat drug trafficking). However, Mr. Semerikov mentioned sending peacekeepers to perform humanitarian and “gendarme” tasks in Afghanistan. This is evidence of the military official’s carelessness (at best) or carelessness of the CSTO as an organization (the worst).

It should be noted that at the XI meeting of heads of the security and law enforcement agencies special services of Russian FSB foreign countries-partners, held on October 3-4 in Moscow, the KGB chairman, Lieutenant General Vladimir Zaitsev was concerned about the development of the situation in Afghanistan, claiming the country to be a potential source of instability and migration flows.

The development of the situation over the last month. On October 8-17 in Kazakhstan military exercises to carry out a peacekeeping mission in the framework of the CSTO “Inviolable brotherhood-2012”, in which Belarus was represented by peacekeeping platoon, were held. According to the plan, in a conditional member state of the Organization there was a crisis related to the operation of international extremist and terrorist organizations, as well as conflicts between local ethnic groups. The main feature of the exercise was the testing of the interaction of the police departments of the State, where the peacekeeping operation takes place, with the CSTO forces.

On October 16, 2012 Alexander Lukashenko dismissed the head of the KGB Military Intelligence Major-General Zakharov. This decision was unexpected, there were no obvious reasons for dismissal of Mr. Zakharov. He was replaced by Colonel Nazarenko, having extensive operational and management experience in the Interior Ministry and the KGB. Both Mr. Nazarenko and Mr. Zakharov are known for their professionalism and good abilities as leaders. In our opinion, it is unlikely that the decision of Lukashenko is connected with deficiencies in the activities of the military counter-intelligence, which is one of the most capable agencies in the system of state security.

Until now, there are no concrete facts about the reform of the structure of the Interior Ministry. The leaders of the department just perform general statements and actions, which essentially does not change anything. For example, the revival of the tradition of the officer meetings was reported. The purpose of the event is unclear. It is stated that the officer meetings will contribute to “improving the quality of officers’ life and their social status”. But it is a mystery how it is going to be implemented in real life. It’s necessary to admit, that the officers’ meetings and courts of officer’s honor have already been introduced in the Belarusian law enforcement agencies. Initially, such meetings and courts were regarded as some form of self-organization and self-management of officers, and had to help to improve the connection between management of law enforcement agencies and lower officers. Soon, however, this idea had degenerated into a mere formality, since, due to a big number of official duties, in most departments simply there were no officers who were ready to assume responsibility for the meetings and courts of honor.

On October 23, 2012, a meeting of working group on cooperation of military-industrial complex of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation was held in Minsk. There took part the First Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Vladimir Semashko and the Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. The main topic was the intensification of cooperation of military-industrial complexes (hereinafter MIC) of the two countries. Belarusian party has used the event to ensure the provision of equal access of our defence industry enterprises to public procurement for defence and security of Russia. The result of the meeting was the signing of the Program of measures taken to enhance cooperation between defence enterprises of Belarus and the Russian Federation for 2012-2015, which includes six sections, reflecting the full range of tasks set by the authorities of the two countries.

On October 28 a delegation of the Ministry of Defence of India, which took part in the fifth session of the joint commission on military-technical cooperation, visited Belarus. Belarus is interested in entering the Indian arms market. In addition to services for the modernization and maintenance of Soviet weapons, which is in service of the Indian Army, there are some perspectives of supplying Belarusian wheeled transport for armored vehicles and missiles to India. India can be also interested in Belarusian system of electronic warfare, communications and automatic control systems.

On October 30, 2012 Minsk hosted a joint meeting of foreign ministers of Russia and Belarus. According to the results the readiness of Belarus to participate in enhancing the capacity of the Russian anti-missile defence in the western sector was announced. It’s essential to note, however, that it was stated to media by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Belarusian party refrained from commenting the situation.

In October it was reported that JSC “558th Aircraft Repair Plant” (Baranovichi) received from the Ministry of Defence of Belarus an order for the supply of unmanned aerial reconnaissance and surveillance systems with unmanned aircraft systems (hereinafter UAS) “Grif- 1”. It is planned to supply a couple of dozens of UAS, while the first six units are to be transferred to the defence department in 2013. Except the engine “Grif-1” was completely developed and produced in Belarus.

From 15th to 17th of October, a battalion live-fire exercises with the 355-m tank battalion of the 120th Guards Detached Mechanized Brigade was held headed by Deputy Commander of the North-West operational command of Major-General Nekrashevich. During the exercises the reconnaissance-fire complexes in the artillery unit and tactical UAS were used. Earlier, in October comprehensive supervision sessions with rocket forces and artillery of the North-Western Operational Command Management on missile strikes and artillery fire was held. The exercises were mainly exploratory and were aimed at increasing the capacity of reconnaissance-strike complexes consisting of missile units and UAS.

Conclusions. Currently, it can be stated that the claims of MIA reform are mostly formal. The attempt to revive the venture, once failed (officers’ meetings) is to cover the absence of plans to reform the Interior Ministry. The situation in the department requires hard measures, but, apparently, no one is willing to take responsibility for their adoption and implementation.

Declarations of strengthening capabilities of the Russian missile defence system, in our view, are speculative. It should be noted that, due to financial and technological constraints, this topic is more a tool of “bargaining” with the West, rather than a real element of defence planning. This was particularly reflected in the fact that this issue was raised by Russia in the context of foreign relations. The strategy of possible participation of Belarus in the Russian air defence is still not clear. In practice, this can be carried out to expand the technical capabilities of the early warning radar “Volga” in Gantsevichi (Brest region). Theoretically, we can not exclude the supply of air defence missile systems S-400 and the transmission of additional sets of S-300 (which is more likely) to Belarus. However, the situation with the prospect of supply of 18 “Su-30” aircraft (formerly part of the Indian Air Force) doesn’t give a reason for much optimism about the supply of new weapons systems from Russia.

Belarus pursues consistent policy of supplying UAS of domestic production to national Army and integrating them with ground-based systems. It should be noted that the fact of development of Belarusian UAS is indirect evidence of the low military-technical cooperation between Belarus and Iran. The latter has made significant progress in the development and production of unmanned aerial vehicles, including the products of long-range ones (up to 2000 km). Belarus is only planning to develop the UAS with a range of 300 km. Thus, in the absence of evidence of the transfer of technology from Iran to Belarus, there is no reason to believe that Belarus provides significant military support to Iran. Meanwhile, the supply of Iranian UAS to Syria and Venezuela has been reported repeatedly.

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