Daniel R. Coats
The Kremlin perceives Belarus as a buffer zone between Russia and NATO member states, Daniel R. Coats, Director of National Intelligence, said at a hearing in the U.S. Senate.
In his 28-page statement World Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, the official stresses that Moscow will continue trying to preserve and possibly expand its influence throughout the former Soviet Union, in the countries that Moscow thinks are in its sphere of influence.
“Russia views Belarus as a critical buffer between itself and NATO and will seek to spoil any potential warming between Minsk and the West,” the document reads.
According to Coats, Belarus president Lukashenka will continue close security cooperation with Moscow but will continue to aim for normalized relations with the West as a check on Russia’s influence.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Security Council, Alyaksandr Lukashenka called Belarus’ relations with its allies ‘vitally important’.