Situation in the field of national security and defense (July 2015).

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The most important events of the month. July was generally not as eventful as the previous month. The most significant was the fact that the post of the State Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus, formally one of the most important in the national security of the country, has been vacant for the second month yet.

Given the fact that the procedure for appointment to the highest public office in Belarus is very long, the longer the position of the State Secretary of the Security Council remains vacant, the higher is the probability of appointment of a new person, not one of the known companions of Alexander Lukashenko. It is likely he will be from a number of regional leaders of any security agency or from among the deputies of the National Assembly of Belarus.

The dynamics of the situation development for the past month. On 02.07.2015, the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement in connection with adoption of the new Chinese law on national security. The situation is quite unusual: at least since January 2011 there was no such attention to the legislations of other countries, except the ones directly affecting the interests of our state. The statement itself is closer in content to the laudatory ode. It should be specially noted that the “security and development is the cornerstone of the Belarusian-Chinese comprehensive strategic partnership”.

During July the Belarusian army carried out intensive trainings. It is interesting that the mechanized units performed transitions to remote landfills in other regions.

The scenarios of trainings are traditional:
— ambush actions, performance of duty at the checkpoint, search and destroy of sabotage and reconnaissance groups;
— interaction with the border guards;
— simulation of the tank and artillery units actions.

The biggest interest is formation and subsequent trainings of the combined tank battalion. For transition of equipment the reservists with experience of operating the tractor trucks were mobilized. T-72 tanks were taken from the 969th reserve tanks base, where they were in storage for about a decade and maintained combat capability).

The domestic military-industrial complex continues to develop international cooperation. Thus, in July, a delegation of the State Military-Industrial Committee of Belarus (hereinafter referred to as SMIC) paid a visit to Azerbaijan, where on 07.08.2015 the talks were held on military and military-technical cooperation between the two countries. Azerbaijan is one of the largest buyers of Russian military products and services in the field of security. In addition, the political contacts between the leaders of the two countries are traditionally at a very high level. The issues of bilateral cooperation in military and military-technical spheres were discussed on 20.07.2015 at the meeting of Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov and the Ambassador of Belarus in Baku Nikolai Patskevich.

On July 14-15, 2015 Minsk received a delegation of representatives from the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, Ministry of Industry and Trade and “Rosoboronexport”. During the talks with SMIC, Belarus discussed the directions of bilateral cooperation, procedure of coordination in respect of military and technical cooperation with the third world countries. The agreement was reached on participation of the Russian military-industrial complex in the programs of import substitution for the needs of the Russian defense.

On 17.07.2015, the board meeting of SMIC took place. The program of the defense sector of economy and the ministry development until 2020 was discussed. They also considered the results of execution of the Goskomvoenprom Development Programme for 2011-2015 on the major integrated system projects (combat geographic information systems, integrated systems to counter precision weapons, unmanned aircraft systems, systems of fire damage, combat systems for special operations and ground troops). The discussion was a success for a number of developments. However, some plans still remain unfulfilled.

In future the development of domestic military-industrial complex is planned at a reduced share of budget funding and increased share of own funds and other sources of financing.

Five integrated system projects are determined: system of fire damage; weapon systems mobility means; unmanned aircraft systems for military and civil purposes; combat geographic information systems; integrated systems to counter precision weapons. The priority is given to development of robotic and unmanned vehicles, systems of fire damage, means of armed struggle, based on new physical principles and light armoured combat vehicles, created on the basis of a single wheel chassis, and integrated with individual and group combat systems for servicemen.

It is planned to achieve the growth of industrial production (works, services) not less than by 1.6 times compared to 2015. By 2020 the export of goods and services is expected to increase by 1.5 times compared to 2015.

The issue of fight against corruption remains in the spotlight. The Prosecutor-General’s Office said that in the first half of 2015 the number of detected corruption crimes in Belarus increased by one third over the same period last year. Following the Ministry of Interior, the Prosecutor-General’s Office included the issues of target and efficient use of public resources to the priorities of carrying out programs for the development and modernization of production, ensuring payment discipline and tax compliance.

On 15.07.2015, a new Law on combating corruption was issued. In general it contains strict, even excessive, requirements. Thus, the transfer of shares, participatory shares in the authorized capital of commercial organizations for trust management is carried out regardless of the size of share or the number of shares. The restriction of the right of private organizations to appoint to leadership positions the persons, previously dismissed for disreputable grounds, is apparently stillborn, as the actual and the formal leadership may differ. Art. 9 of Law expressly permits the possibility of participation of public associations in the fight against corruption. Thus creation of specialized anti-corruption associations is allowed.

On 24.07.2015, the Minister of Internal Affairs Igor Shunevich informed that the Office will continue working to optimize the personnel structure (i.e. to reduce the number and revise functions). He said the most part of the work has already been done and no further significant changes are planned. However, traditionally the details of the decisions taken were not reported.

On 30.07.2015, the results of inspection were summed up regarding the efficiency of the state border and territorial defense protection strengthening (hereinafter referred to as the territorial defense), which took place in early June in the Gomel region. The event was hosted by the Acting State Secretary of the Security Council, Major-General Stanislav Zas with participation of the Defense Minister Lieutenant-General Andrey Ravkov, Chairman of the State Border Committee, Colonel-General Leonid Maltsev and other military and civil leaders bearing high ranks. It was highlighted that the preparation of officials of local executive authorities in the field of territorial defense is poor. As a measure to improve the situation it is suggested to improve their preparation.

Conclusion. The official Minsk considers the development of relations with China a priority of its foreign policy. And the statements on adoption of the Chinese new legislation in the area of national security were clearly addressed to the official Beijing.

It is obvious that the commitments on Armenia under the Collective Security Treaty Organization are for the official Minsk not the factor having a significant impact on bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan, including in the field of security. Particular interests outweigh the abstract alliance commitments.

As for the plans for the military-industrial complex development it is worth to note a decline in the planned indicators of production growth until 2020 (from 1.7 to 1.6) and growth of export plans (from 1.4 times to 1.5 times). The excess of production growth over export growth means an increase in supplies for the needs of national security agencies. However, the economic crisis makes its own adjustments: the financial capacity of the budget is being reduced, which makes the domestic defense industry more cautious in their approach to planning of supply for domestic use in 2016-2020. Reduction of share of budget financing of the domestic military-industrial complex does not mean reduction it in absolute terms. However, this is another sign that we should not expect significant improvement of the financial capacity of the state in the next five years. The economic stagnation will obviously take a long time.

Although the SMIC plans for 2016-2020 are known only in very general terms, certain conclusions can be made. For example, projects in the field of fire damage will very likely include development and production of anti-aircraft missile systems of small and medium-range anti-aircraft missile and gun systems, rocket launchers, anti-tank missiles, multiple rocket launchers of long-range and possibly cruise missiles. The mobility of weapon systems will be provided by transition of domestic production to the wheelbase. It may be expected that the Belarusian chassis will be applied not only to all types of MLRS, but also to a part of the towed artillery and air defense systems. Among the weapons based on new physical principles, which could theoretically be developed in Belarus due to availability of the scientific base, may include with a high degree of caution the following: laser (primarily intended to destroy the optical guidance means) and electromagnetic non-lethal (primarily intended to destroy the electrical devices) weapons. The issue of modernization of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles needs to be resolved: purchase of new tracked armoured vehicles is not under consideration due to financial constraints.

The increased attention of the law enforcement agencies to governmental expenses and income is also an indirect evidence of seriousness of the economic difficulties faced by the Belarusian State.

The fact that the level of competence of civil officials in organization of territorial defense does not respond to the required one is not new. This problem has existed for many years and during this long term only one solution is offered – to strengthen the education and preparation. Meanwhile, the problem is not in the officials, but in the concept of territorial defense itself, managed by the heads of local executive committees. At the same time they are also heads of the civil defense systems of their territories, having twelve or more services. And moreover they have a large amount of direct duties, many of which superfluous. In these circumstances, it is physically impossible to cover all the issues, not even considering the fact that the requirements of civil and military leaders are fundamentally different. It is clear that the leaders of the territorial defense should be performed by the military personnel. Taking into account the subordination of the territorial defense, the military authorities should be clearly (and realistically) outline the range of problems that can be solved with the resources available and transfer the full control of territorial defense to some local military commissariats. Another thing is that their level of competence is doubtful as well and requires strengthening the commissariats with the competent personnel.

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