Belarus-Russia border: Will Lukashenka steer clear from neighbour?

Alyaksandr Lukashenka has endorsed the concept of providing the border security of Belarus for the next five years. What does the new document have in store for us? Will the Belarusian borders be secure?

The document has been signed, but any particulars have not been reported. According to the presidential press service, the concept is about the state’s basic national interests regarding the border issue; it defines goals, objectives and principles for the effective protection of the border, as well as top-priority areas for the improvement and development of the border service.

“What is completely new is the fact that some of the functions of border guards may be delegated to customs agencies, which allows for freeing up part of the border troops and transferring them to some problem-plagued border strips,” Arsen Sivitski, Director of the Centre for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies, said.

The urgency of such action was previously stressed by Alyaksandr Lukashenka during his visit to Dzivin border guard station in Kobryn district. Then he also suggested Russia should make a final decision on the protection of the border referring to the fact that the neighbour had actually started to exercise full-fledged control on the border with Belarus.

“If they want to close the border, let them. But in response, we should also introduce checks on the border,” he said.

When interviewed by Belsat TV, many residents of Minsk share the opinion that one should not isolate themselves from its neighbours, but there should be some control on the border with Russia:

“It is high time. It is an open secret that that drug trafficking is linked to Russia.”

“Let them [authorities] do what they want. It is the sovereign right of Belarus and Russia. But we know that drugs come from Russia to us, and counterfeit goods go from Belarus to Russia.”

“I do not actually want to have something in common with Russia. Taking to account the recent developments in Ukraine, I would like to be as far away from it as possible.”

According to independent experts, 95% of bootleg alcoholic beverages is carried to Belarus from Russia. Consequently, our country loses more than $250 mln on excise duties. The similar amount is needed to establish a full-bodied Belarusian-Russian border, the experts say.

No consensus on the Belarusian-Russian border has been reached during the latest meeting of Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin. Belarus is preparing a package of measures in order to immediately tackle the issue if anything happens, Arsen Sivitski said.

Interestingly, Lukashenka has recently raised the issue of strengthening another border – that of Ukraine. According to him, illegal weapons come to Belarus from Ukraine. However, experts point out that smugglers carry the same Ukrainian weapons to Belarus through the Russian border.

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