In the course of the discussion at the global security conference GLOBSEC 2014 in Bratislava George Friedman, Head of the American Stratfor research centre, suggested that Belarus would become one of the nearest arenas of a ‘small cold war’ between Russia and the West. He also foresees Russia’s collapse in 2020-ies, Radio Liberty reports.
‘When a pro-western government emerges in Ukraine Aliaksandr Lukashenka will not last long in these conditions,’ George Friedman said when asked about Russia’s further steps in relations with Belarus.
At that, Dr Friedman does not expect such scenario to turn into reality in the years to come. From his perspective, Russia will do its best to prevent Belarus and Ukraine from falling under Western influence.
‘Now Russia does not need to do much because it already has Belarus, but from Belarus the use of force might be projected against Poland and other neighbours if it is allowed. This is an important part of the Russian strategy. All the attempts to cast Lukashenka down failed, that is why this is not a problem to them. The best protection for Belarus now is Ukraine’, he said.
‘Could Russia be interested in seizing the territory of Belarus even if Lukashenka remains in power?’ RFE/RL journalist asked. ‘They have already had agreements on military bases, military cooperation, etc. It is more than enough for Russia,’ he answered.
‘Will Belarusian troops be involved if Russia launches a massive military operation against Ukraine?’ the journalist asked.
‘I don’t think Russia needs it. And I’m not sure Belarusian forces are capable of it. But the territory of both Belarus and Ukraine is a crucial factor to Russia. They support Lukashenka so that he could stay in power. To my mind, Lukashenka realises he needs Russia for it. That’s why I am not so optimistic to say that Lukashenka will be toppled soon,’ Dr Friedman said.
George Friedman is Chairman of Stratfor, a company he founded in 1996 that has become a leader in the field of global intelligence and geopolitical forecasting.
Dr Friedman is the author of the bestselling books, The Next Decade and The Next 100 Years, with his prescient predictions of the decline of the European Union and the rising tension between Russia and the West and their struggle over Ukraine and borderland countries. Dr Friedman’s other books on warfare and intelligence include America’s Secret War, The Future of War and The Intelligence Edge.