The Belarusian regime is trying to take advantage of the current security crisis and resume dialogue with the West, but this is unrealistic.
On April 12th, during his meeting with Vladimir Putin, Alexander Lukashenka made several statements regarding the current Russian-Ukrainian war:
- Moscow had no choice about launching a preventive war, as unnamed forces were preparing to strike at Russian territory;
- reports of the Bucha massacre are a psychological disinformation operation involving Western intelligence agencies.
- in the history of Belarus and Russia, there were never such dangerous moments in relations with the West as now.
Thus, Minsk once again fully aligned itself with the Kremlin.
April 14th saw the publication of a letter, dated April 6th, from Vladimir Makei, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Belarusian regime, to European leaders. Minsk has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of this document. There are assurances that the Belarusian authorities have no intention of getting involved in the war against Ukraine and calls to find ways to normalise Minsk’s relations with the West. Such an event is unprecedented in Belarusian-European relations and is unlikely to constitute an unauthorised leak. An obvious motivation for turning to the West is the stranglehold of sanctions and the failure of the Russian blitzkrieg in Ukraine.
On the same day, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, Alexei Danilov, stated that Kyiv did not expect a Russian strike from Belarusian territory.
The Belarusian regime is trying to take advantage of the current regional security crisis to resolve its political issues. With a significant number of Russian troops departing Belarus, the likelihood of increased tension between Russia and the West due to the possible accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO, and repeated nuclear threats from Moscow, Minsk hopes to resume its previously successful “security arbitrage”. Publicly maintaining allied relations with the Kremlin and privately promising not to create threats to neighbours in the future, in the naive belief that it can start with a clean slate.
The West disagrees. From the start of the war, there has been a consensus regarding the lack of independence of the Belarusian regime. In the United States and the EU, any Belarusian aspirations to normalise relations tend to be viewed as Kremlin intrigue.