Top US official to visit Belarus

The United States is changing its attitude towards Belarus. An advisor to Donald Trump will come to Minsk to meet with Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The Presidential Administration of Belarus has confirmed the visit of the U.S. Presidential Adviser on National Security. The exact date and format of the meeting are still being agreed upon, but it is known that one of the highest representatives of Donald Trump will visit Belarus this week but not earlier than Thursday.

John Bolton has recently gone to Kyiv. He will then travel from Ukraine to Moldova and then to Belarus. The Foreign Policy outlet was the first to report on the visit to Minsk, citing government sources in Washington. The Belarusian official media are still silent, although the visit of the presidential advisor on national security is a historic event. John Bolton is the highest U.S. official to will visit Belarus in this century, as well as a man who is now almost solely responsible for shaping the U.S. foreign policy.

“We know what shapes the U.S. foreign policy, and it is done at the level of mechanisms. But at the level of strategy development it is the advisor on national security who does it,” explains Valeriy Kravchenko, an analyst at the National Institute for Strategic Studies in Kyiv.

In the analyst’s opinion, John Bolton has proved himself in the Middle East issues, in particular, in the Iranian crisis, and he may come to our region to better understand the events. Vital Tsyhankou, a journalist and commentator for Radio Liberty, points out that Bolton stands for his views even in the Trump administration.

“He is the so-called “falcon” against the background of pigeons, and he looks at foreign policy from the point of view of confrontation with the geopolitical competitors of the United States — China and Russia. In Moscow, he is called a Russophobe,” emphasizes Tsyhankou.

Therefore, the planned visit to Moscow may be perceived as a threat to Russian interests in Belarus.

“Moscow is looking at it suspiciously; it is logical, as Belarus is an area of absolute influence which seems unshakable for Russia. It is also the case from the point of view of the Union State, military exercises that take place there, the position itself,” said Valeriy Kravchenko.

The annexation of Crimea and Russia’s hybrid aggression in Donetsk and Luhansk regions have changed the attitude of Washington towards the events in Belarus.

“Bolton is well aware that Putin is pursuing an aggressive policy, and that this aggressive policy may include some plans against Belarus,” said former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst, commenting on Bolton’s visit to Belarus.

Here the interests coincide: Bolton wants to keep Russia from annexing Belarus, while Lukashenka does not want to lose power. In addition, Moscow’s aggressive actions have overshadowed the issue of human rights in Belarus, where there are no fundamental improvements.

There is also an economic aspect of relations with the Americans.

“It’s neither Russia nor Saudi Arabia but the U.S. that produces the most oil, it has enough for itself, and it’s starting to sell oil for the world. Therefore, Minsk is interested in diversifying these supplies.

Unlike the left-wing projects — Venezuela or Iran — the American project can be very realistic,” believes Vitaly Tsyhankou.

As previously reported by the media, the Belarusian oil company has hired an American lobbyist to ease the sanctions imposed for brutal repression against the citizens of Belarus, as well as to obtain permission to purchase crude oil from the U.S. Treasury.

Yaraslau Stseshyk, Belsat


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