National security and defence of Belarus (July 2022)

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The most important events of the month

On July 12, 2022, during a reception for graduates of law enforcement agencies and senior officers, Aliaksandr Lukashenka repeated his claims to unnamed allies in the CSTO and the CIS who are in no hurry to help Minsk and the Kremlin in the fight against Western sanctions. He said that additional expenses for the social security of law enforcement agencies personnel are envisaged from next year. Traditionally, the United States was accused of destroying the global security system, preparing an aggressive war against Russia through the territories of Ukraine and Belarus. Lukashenka also repeated the Russian propaganda fantasies about the inevitability of a multipolar world and American support for neo-Nazism and fascism. Which pushes the world to a global war in which there will be no winners. While the West allegedly unleashed a hybrid war against Belarus.

The developments within the month

On July 3, 2022, Lukashenka once again accused Poland (although he did not directly mention it) of plans to seize the western territories of Belarus and Ukraine. He also stated that:

— The Ukrainian army tried to launch a missile attack on military facilities on the territory of Belarus, but the air defense intercepted all the missiles. Obviously, he was talking about facilities that are used by the Russian army.

— The capitals of neighboring countries are targeted by the Belarusian army. In case they take some aggressive actions against the Lukashenka regime.

Lukashenka’s statements about Ukraine’s attempt to launch a missile attack on military facilities in Belarus subsequently wasn’t developed. No actual evidence of this was presented. The Russians did not comment on this topic.

On July 21, 2022, Lukashenka gave another interview to a foreign news agency. During it traditional anti-Western and anti-Ukrainian narratives were spoken. The most interesting one was Lukashenka’s statement that on February 24, 2022, a Russian ground grouping of 20,000 military personnel invaded Ukraine from Belarusian territory. We have devoted a special article to this event. Lukashenka has been somewhat obtrusively stressing his full solidarity with the Kremlin during the current war. He said that Russian troops are present in Belarus at his will.

In July, the work of services for advising conscripts on obtaining a deferment from conscription for military service was terminated. This business has existed for quite a long period of time. It is worth noting that these businesses were not engaged in illegal activities, they used the opportunities and loopholes in the legislation on evading military service.

In July, the Code of Criminal Procedure of Belarus was supplemented with the chapter “Special Proceedings”, which establishes the procedure for conducting an investigation and trial in absentia in the absence of an accused of crimes against the peace and security of mankind, against the state, war crimes. First of all, innovations are directed against opponents of the regime who are abroad.

Last month, it became known that OJSC 140 Repair Plant is working on the “Modernization of the T-72B tank” in the interests of the armoured department of the Ministry of Defense. A prototype tank has been created.

In July, a number of events for the combat training of troops were held. Special attention should be paid to the following ones:

— Control exercises of the signal troops as part of the preparation for the upcoming command and staff exercise of the army. New methods of using mobile sets of satellite communication stations have been tested. A perspective communication technique was also used.

— Staff exercise with the authorities and military units of electronic warfare. During the event the issues of search, location and electronic suppression of sources of radio emission, counteraction to UAVs were worked out. Technical control at military facilities was also carried out.

— Command-staff exercises with the territorial troops of the Žlobin district of the Homiel region. The troops trained the security and defence of the facility as well as service at the checkpoint.

After a long pause, once again there were reports about the preventive measures that prosecutors are taking in the army:

— a meeting in the 19th mechanised brigade on the state of crime and legality in the military units of the local Zaslonauski garrison was held.

— in the 147th anti-aircraft missile regiment, a representative of the prosecutor’s office of the Mahiliou region had a conversation with personnel on the prevention of offences among military personnel.

Conclusions

In Lukashenka’s dissatisfaction with the reaction of the post-Soviet countries to the imposition of Western sanctions against Belarus and Russia, one has to pay attention to his division of Minsk’s allies in the CIS and the CSTO. Perhaps only Azerbaijan can be attributed to the number of the first category. The rest of the CIS countries are either formal allies in the CSTO or did not take any actions earlier that Minsk could have assessed as allied (Moldova, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan).

Speaking about the prospects for growth in the cost of maintaining personnel of law enforcement agencies, it is worth noting two points:

-Such expenses, as a rule, are connected with political campaigns and act as a tool of a kind of purchase of loyalty. In this regard, the scale of growth in these expenses will be indicative.

— Prospects for budget revenues are far from optimistic. And, giving such promises, Lukashenka could not help but know this. Although, it is worth noting that the costs of maintaining the law enforcement are relatively small and their growth will not be a serious challenge.

For the past two years, Lukashenka has regularly addressed the subject of a possible start of a regional or global war provoked by the West. At the same time, no noticeable efforts are being made to prepare for such a war in the military sphere. The militarization of law enforcement agencies in terms of changing their training programs so that they can strengthen the army in the event of an armed confrontation is not able to compensate for the obsolescence of existing weapons. Talk about the prominent role of lightly armed formations is not confirmed by the practice of the current Russian-Ukrainian war. Heavy mechanised formations, rocket and artillery units, the massive use of UAVs are the backbone of the warring armies. Light infantry is able to perform only auxiliary functions in specific conditions.

Lukashenka obviously either uses the theme of the threat of war for propaganda and domestic political purposes (which is relevant again during the preparation and conduct of a political campaign) or really firmly believes that the Belarusian army is adequately equipped.

It is worth noting that it was officially announced that the practice of annual military parades on July 3 was abandoned. Now they will be held only on anniversaries. Earlier in Belarus there were already discussions about the expediency of spending on military parades. Part of the society was against it, officials defended this de facto tradition that had developed under the rule of Lukashenka. Who personally perceived this action as an important ritual for himself. The rejection of this ritual is also dictated by personal reasons, but not concern about public finances.

Pre-definition of priority targets for strikes in the territory of a potential enemy is a normal part of defence planning. Minsk has long had the technical capabilities to strike at the capitals of Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine. For these purposes, OTRK «Tochka-U», MLRS “Polonaise” and “Smerch”, missiles for S-300 air defense systems can be used. There is nothing new for the neighbours in this. So far, there is no information about any unusual or threatening movements of weapons systems of the Belarusian army, capable of “reaching out” from Belarusian territory to neighbouring capitals.

Lukashenka is sincerely sure that it is enough for him to convey his correct (as he believes) position to Western societies, they will understand everything and put pressure on their politicians to negotiate with Minsk and Moscow. This fact also explains Lukashenka’s interest in communicating with Western media. Which are perceived as platforms for influencing the domestic and foreign policies of Western countries. The constant emphasis on full support for the Kremlin’s actions against Ukraine and the West is not only a public show of loyalty to the Kremlin. It is also an explanation to its own supporters, bureaucracy and external observers of the fact that Moscow used Belarusian territory to attack Ukraine. Especially to those who had doubts about the independence of the Lukashenka regime and its ability to be a party to the agreements. The main ideas of such Lukashenka’s messages are:

— Russians act this way because Minsk allows them to;

— but Lukashenka allows them to act this way, because he shares the position of the Kremlin;

— therefore, it is necessary, as before, to talk about Belarus with Lukashenka, and not with Putin.

It is obvious that the July defeat of services for de facto evasion of compulsory military service is associated with the scale of their demand. Which was considered dangerous after the last draft campaign. The results of which, by the way, are unknown. But according to the experience of last year’s spring conscription campaign, the number of draft dodgers practically equaled the number of those called up for service.

This problem could be considered especially acute if the regime had plans to increase the size of the army by increasing the number of conscripts in order to form the same Southern Command.

The problem is that closing the loopholes of conscription evasion does not make the service either prestigious or popular among young people. This, in particular, is evidenced by long-term data on passing scores in the universities of law enforcement agencies. Without a radical reform of the system of military service itself (reform means a change in the conditions of service and attitude towards conscripts, and not the terms of the service itself), the outflow of conscripts will continue. First of all, because of their going abroad to work or study.

It can be expected that the next wave of repression will hit the businesses in the field of education or employment abroad.

The introduction of absentee proceedings in de facto political cases right now is hardly an accident. Obviously, this is a tool to exclude objectionable public politicians from certain processes / campaigns, which, according to the plans of the Lukashenka regime, are possible in the foreseeable future.

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