Russia set to defend Belarus. From whom?

Belarus is fully protected, there is no cause for concern, the Kremlin declares. Moscow will consider any attack on Belarus as assaulting Russia, Ambassador Mikhail Babich said when asked by TV station Belarus 1 about the feasibility of establishing a US military base in Poland. How and from whom is Russia going to defend us?

“Warsaw takes Russia as a foe, not Belarus. To be more exact, not even a foe, but a potential aggressor. But as Russia has a radar location in Belarus and the issue of a Russian air base in Baranavichy was repeatedly raised, Polish staff officers consider it a potential threat,”- says Paweł Fleischer, an expert at the Warsaw-based Institute for Forecasting and International Studies, said.

Russians are ready to defend all Russian-speaking people (at least, it is the official reason for their actions in eastern Ukraine), Syrians and, as presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, Orthodox Christians would not be left to their fate as well. There have recently been increasingly frequent discussions about an imminent conflict with the West. Are Russians eager to fight?

“Well, I share the opinion that the attack on Belarus is the same that we are attacked.”

“Whoever attacks, I believe we should protect. In the Soviet times, we were one nation, and I guess nothing has changed by now.”

“Well, in general, if Motherland asks [to go to war], we will have to.”

“Aggressors must know that retaliation is inevitable, that they will be destroyed. [In case of a neclear attack on Russia] we will be victims. We will go to Heaven as martyrs, and they will drop dead!” Vladimir Putin did not mince his words at a plenary session of the International Discussion Club Valdai in Sochi.

It is hard to guess whether Putin also regards Belarusians as would-be martyrs, but not only the Kremlin is ready to protect us. On October 18, Wess Mitchell, assistant secretary responsible for the US State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, promised to support Eastern European countries, i.e. ‘frontier states like Ukraine, Georgia, and even Belarus, that offer the surest bulwark against Russian neo-imperialism’.

“Thus, Belarus is facing the situation when the both sides are set to protect it. On the one hand, there is certain room for maneuver. But on the other hand, if another wave of arms race starts, Belarus will have difficulty distancing itself from Russia,” Belarusian political analyst Valery Karbalevich stressed.

Indeed, the term ‘arms race’ has every chance to get back into use. A few day ago, US President Donald Trump said that the United States of America might withdraw from the INF Treaty, since Russia had been violating this agreement.

“A question of the Russian base in Belarus may be brought up again. But it is highly likely that this time [Russians] will push for a missile base, not an air one,” Karbalevich believes.

If Moscow and Washington do pull out of the treaty, there are fears that not only Iskander missile systems which have an a range of up to 500 km, but also longer-range ballistic missiles might be placed in the conceivable base in Belarus.

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