Defence Ministry: a change of course is not expected.

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Aliaksandr Lukashenka on November 27 appointed Major-General Andrey Raukou Defence Minister.

The President noted that while choosing the person for the position he used the principle of rejuvenation and bet on a young and promising general.

In connection with this decision it’s necessary to pay attention to a few points.

Aliaksandr Lukashenka has demonstrated a conservative approach to the selection of candidates for the post of head of the Defence Ministry. It is obvious that in Belarus in whole there are no political ministers. However, the level of “technicality” varies and depends on how close the official is to the leader of the state or to his older sons. Andrey Raukou can be regarded as purely technical manager who will act in the course directly elected by Aliaksandr Lukashenka. And only time can show whether the new head of the department will be able/want to influence the Belarusian leader in the optimization of the defence building. Thus, there is no reason to talk about the prospects for reforming the sector of National Security. An exception can only be the personnel policy. Alas, the level of qualification and erudition of officers declines year in year out. This is typical for all law enforcement agencies of the country, differing only in the details: for example, if some of the Military Academy cadets are firmly convinced that the Germans in 1941 dropped a hydrogen bomb on the Brest Fortress, in the Police Academy some future officers believe that Lenin was a woman. However, the effectiveness of the personnel policy is directly proportional to funding of law enforcement agencies.

Defence Ministry is now headed by a young general: Andrey Raukou is 47 years old. Accordingly, it is expected that he will have less trepid attitude to the Soviet legacy. This will allow the agency finally adapt to the requirements of today. Defence Ministry in nature and ideology remains largely Soviet, without adaptation to the transformation of Belarusian society. As a consequence, the alienation between the mass of the population and the military takes place. That is a very worrying phenomenon, if we take into account the fact that the first don’t see any sense in the existence of the latter.

Some independent experts have appreciated that Andrey Raukou is an ethnic Belarusian. Against the background of the Ukrainian crisis it can be seen as an allusion to his loyalty in the event of a conflict with Russia. However, the Russian-Ukrainian war demonstrated many cases of Ukrainians’ betrayal of their country and ethnic Russians’ heroism in defending Ukraine. Thus, we should not exaggerate the blood factor.

The Ministry is headed by a man, who is not a native of the central apparatus of the Defence Ministry, which will require additional time for him to come into the swing of things and the formation of his team there. Some personnel changes within the agency aimed at rejuvenation of the central office can be expected. In addition, the lack of personal preference and secret interdepartmental obligations facilitates the optimization of the structure of the Ministry, which has reason to be called unnecessarily cumbersome. However, this (getting into the affairs and gathering a team) is also reducing the likelihood of any substantial changes of the course of defence construction.

Andrey Raukou made a career in the army and knows the problems firsthand. It remains an open question whether President Lukashenka grants him the resources necessary to improve the situation.

In general, the appointment of a new Defence Minister gives the impression of replacing one technical leader of the military department with another, but younger one.

Preconditions for tangible adjustments of military policy are not yet visible. So, we have just to wait for the adoption of the budget for 2015.

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