Moscow has no intention of vacating the "Belarusian balcony"

There is no magical way to defeat the regime. Belarus will not be able to break free from its current situation until the empire is dismantled.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka intends to present himself as a savior of the Belarusians from the possibility of war during the upcoming election cycle. During a conversation with a youth activist on October 24, he stated that in 2020, Belarus could have been caught in the middle of a conflict between Russia and NATO.

-“It would crush us,” he said.

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Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s meeting with young people at the Palace of the Republic. October 24, 2023                   

It never occurred to NATO members to intervene in Belarus’ presidential elections, and they remain hesitant to overstep their bounds in assisting Ukraine.

It is clear that if the Belarusian revolution succeeds, the Kremlin will likely use armed intervention. Furthermore, it is doubtful that Russia would now relinquish its strategic position on the “Belarusian balcony,” which overlooks Ukraine and extends into the side of NATO.

2020: Putin’s reserves are being used to support Lukashenka

Then, in August 2020, at the peak of the Belarusian protests, Vladimir Putin openly declared that he had created a certain reserve of law enforcement officers in case it was necessary to help Lukashenka.

The government in Minsk stays in power mainly by relying on Moscow. It is almost only possible to solve the issue of Belarus by severely defeating the Russian Empire. The Kremlin will maintain a firm hold on this strategic location, particularly if it loses control of Ukraine.

In 2020, the Belarusian government, without Putin’s reserves, subdued a peaceful uprising with force and the help of trained, well-fed security forces.  

At one point, many members of the security forces, as well as representatives of the nomenklatura, were left confused. They were astonished by the sheer number of people on the streets. For a while, the protesters were not dispersed at all. It was not just a technical challenge to deal with such a large crowd, but also that these were more than just a group of troublemakers. They were people who had grown tired of seeing the same face on TV for over 25 years.

The Partisan March in Minsk on October 18, 2020, was one of the last large opposition demonstrations after the rigged elections. Photo Vot Tak TV/

Putin’s announcement that the Kremlin acknowledges Lukashenka’s victory and is willing to support him has boosted the morale of Belarusian dictator security forces and government machinery. Military leaders and politicians have urged their troops and colleagues not to be afraid, reminding them that Moscow is standing behind them. The hesitations were rejected. Well-equipped, well-trained professionals began methodically crushing columns of people carrying flowers and posters and killing hundreds of demonstrators. The failure of the peaceful uprising was only a matter of time.

The success of the Belarusian revolution will likely lead to an occupation.

– A year later, Lukashenka admitted that he had asked Putin to create a reserve of a thousand people. However, he believed it wasn’t a solution to any problem as he already had an entire army in reserve. He also added that he wouldn’t hesitate to put the army into practice if he saw them (the protest crossing a red line.

During the protests in Belarus, some people, particularly the Ukrainians, sarcastically criticized the Belarusians for taking off their shoes before entering the benches instead of getting ready for a violent confrontation. However, it’s worth noting that armored personnel carriers with machine guns were stationed at the Independence Palace in Minsk. If the demonstrators had attempted to attack, it would have resulted in a devastating defeat and numerous casualties.

Even if we were to imagine the unthinkable scenario where Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a former “housewife” who unexpectedly rose to become a presidential candidate, suddenly emerges out of nowhere to fight against ready-to-fight teams and protesters outraged by the rigged elections are taking over the palace – what happens next? With almost complete certainty, after a few moments, paratroopers from Pskov would land in Minsk, and the Rosgvardia would enter from Smolensk. Tanks would follow them closely, and the protest would be violently suppressed.

The Ukrainians were successful in the Maidan protests due to a more vulnerable authoritarian regime and a stronger foundation for the protest. Their leader, Viktor Yanukovych, was weak-willed and cowardly, unlike Lukashenka in Belarus. However, Ukraine also learned the hard way about the imperial reflex. Moreover, this country still feels bitter about this. If democratic forces had won in 2020, Belarus would not have been able to resist the Russian army. It’s a paradox: the victory of the Belarusian revolution would have almost certainly led to occupation.

The “truths” expressed by the Belarusian dictator

Now, Lukashenka, accused of election fraud by the West and many of his citizens, portrays himself as a savior from disaster.

– If those who opposed the regime had succeeded in taking power even for a day and invited NATO troops into Belarus, it would have triggered a war. NATO forces were already preparing for such an eventuality. The resulting direct clash with Russia would have been catastrophic, potentially leading to a nuclear war. The Belarusian leader described this apocalyptic scenario during a meeting with carefully selected youth activists on October 24 at the Independence Palace.

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Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s meeting with young people at the Palace of the Republic. October 24, 2023. Photo

The idea that NATO forces would intervene in Ukraine seems like a fairy tale to many, as they appear to be hesitant to engage in the ongoing conflict despite its potential impact on the West’s survival. NATO is carefully assessing the military aid it provides, as a confrontation with the Russian army would be a nightmare. The same cannot be said for the situation with the Belarusian housewife, Tsikhanouskaya, as NATO would likely rush to intervene if necessary.

Lukashenka has raised a valid point that his opponents taking power could lead to the empire’s downfall. However, it is unlikely that they could crush NATO members as they lack the strength to do so. Instead, they would more likely target the rebellious part of the Belarusian nation. To illustrate this point, we can use the example of how Moscow and Minsk helped the regime in Kazakhstan deal with the protests in January 2022 under the facade of peace aid within the ODKB.

Elections as a special operation

Lukashenka and his power division are gearing up for the upcoming elections on February 25, 2024. These elections will include voting for the House of Representatives and local governments. However, the government has yet to recover from the psychological trauma of 2020. That year, the government openly mocked the opposition by registering a housewife to run against the ruler. Now, Lukashenka has made it clear that they will not entertain any games with the West in the field of democracy. This statement is hardly surprising.

Following the parliamentary and local government elections, the 2025 presidential campaign is approaching, and Lukashenka is already contemplating his candidacy. He plans to conduct his campaign in a North Korean style, which means there will be no room for subtleties or polite gestures.

The internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus are already being prepared to fight the armed arm of the democratic emigration. On October 19, General Mikałaj Karpiankou said this in front of Spetsnaz soldiers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Photo press service of the internal army of the Ministry of Internal Affairs

The Chairman of the Central Election Commission of Belarus, Ihar Karpienka, recently addressed officers of the internal troops. He appealed to them to not let the work of polling stations be disrupted, to maintain public order, and to avoid destabilizing the situation in the country. The authorities have taken strict measures to prevent resistance and treat the election campaign as a large-scale special operation.

The media recently uncovered a leaked speech given by Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Mikalai Karpyankov to participants of an internal troops training. In his speech, he bragged about the government’s financial commitment to equip the security forces and create new special units. He also issued a warning of a potential invasion by political opponents abroad, referring to the Kalinouski Regiment – volunteers from Belarus fighting alongside with the Ukrainians.

The demonization of the enemy is a prevalent tactic used by the regime’s opponents, who currently lack the necessary forces to overthrow the government. The main focus of the political opposition, led by Tsikhanouskaya and her cabinet, is to hold elections for their proto-parliament, the Coordination Council, in opposition to the standard voting day in Belarus. However, this alternative is weak and uncertain.

In 2020, many Belarusians participated in protests but now find themselves frustrated and hiding at home. The current environment of punishing individuals for liking seditious posts on social media or subscribing to “extremist” Telegram channels has created fear among the residents, leading to hesitancy in even participating in virtual voting. Additionally, the Coordination Council is seen by the Belarusians as an emigre group.

Carthage must be destroyed

The ruler of Belarus is not afraid of sanctions, an arrest warrant, or a trial in The Hague. He has placed all his bets on his relationship with the Kremlin, his last and still quite strong support. His security forces are prepared for a desperate fight, knowing that the “New Belarus” that the opposition talks about so much may not be in their favor.

Abroad, Lukashenka’s opponents have proposed numerous significant reforms. Still, they need to tackle the crucial question of how to change the regime and pave the way for a better future for Belarus. When discussing it, their ideas often sound utopian. They either propose a scenario similar to the liberation march of the Kalinouski Regiment to Minsk, or they rely on a split of the elites. Furthermore, they are hoping that the current ruler would become too toxic for them if he received an arrest warrant issued by the International Court of Justice. The truth is, they are all toxic, and they know that if the government changes, there will be no place for them except prison.

It is unrealistic to assume that if Lukashenka dies, his successor will be willing to negotiate with the opposition. Instead, the heir will likely be a member of the nomenklatura with a questionable reputation or a security service officer who will be pro-Moscow. It’s probable that without Lukashenka’s determination and inventiveness, the successor will quickly surrender the remaining sovereignty to the Kremlin.

There is no single solution for defeating the regime. Unless the empire is dismantled, Belarus cannot escape its grasp. And do not deceive yourself into thinking that the “Belarusian issue” can be resolved separately.

Alaksandr Kłaskousk i for, cez/

Translated by PEV

The opinions and thoughts expressed in the text reflect only the author's views.