Espreso. Global

Lukashenko is Putin's tool to destabilize Europe - Vitaly Portnikov

28 March, 2024 Thursday

Lukashenko and Putin resort to intimidation tactics against Europe and the West, recognizing their vulnerability in a conflict with NATO, while persisting with aggressive agendas

Alexander Lukashenko arrived at the Belarus-Lithuania border to threaten the Baltic states and Poland from there. Of course, all of this was done under the guise of peacefulness, which is typical of Lukashenko and Putin: "we will repel any aggression".

"However, Lukashenko's mention of the so-called Suwałki corridor, which is known to be the most vulnerable strategic point for NATO in Central Europe, primarily indicates that the Belarusian leader has prepared for this trip, primarily associated with threats from the Belarusian regime."

We understand perfectly well that these are not independent threats, as Vladimir Putin is attempting to speak through Lukashenko as a puppet with the West. Keeping the civilized world on edge is one of the important propaganda tasks of the Russian dictator, for which he utilizes Lukashenko and other Belarusian officials and military personnel.

Of course, Lukashenko's trip, during which he spoke to Belarusian journalists, made no practical sense. There are no existing threats to Belarus from the Baltic states or Poland, but Belarus has been repeatedly used by Russia to destabilize the situation in neighboring countries. Russia attacked the northern regions of Ukraine from the territory of Belarus, and Alexander Lukashenko knew perfectly well that the territory of his country was being used by the Russian army to seize Kyiv and create a puppet government in the Ukrainian capital that would be similar to the occupation government that Lukashenko had created in his own country.

Belarus was indeed used by Russia as a tool in hybrid warfare against Poland and the Baltic countries through the manipulation of migrants. It's worth recalling that following Russia's aggression against Ukraine, Vladimir Putin had planned a similar migration war against Finland. Therefore, what we witnessed at the Belarusian-Polish border was essentially a dress rehearsal for future hybrid wars orchestrated by the Russian Federation.

Then, Putin and Lukashenko aimed to do everything to provoke Polish security forces, demonstrating that Poland couldn't control its own border, and its border guards were forced to react inadequately to unfortunate migrants who were being brought in large numbers to the Belarus-EU border.

And now, after Lukashenko's role in undermining stability and security at the borders has become evident even to himself, the Belarusian leader is once again heading to the border, this time with Lithuania, to discuss the Suwałki corridor and to remind everyone how insignificant this territory is and how, in his view, it could be swiftly occupied. Of course, with the participation not only of the Belarusian but also the Russian army, which effectively controls Belarusian territory today and ensures Lukashenko's ability to remain in power safely.

"This situation once again reminds us that Russia's war with Ukraine is just one element of Russia's aggressive actions against the civilized world. Putin and Lukashenko are pursuing a common goal of destabilizing and intimidating the civilized world to diminish support for Ukraine in the coming months and possibly years of the war of attrition that Vladimir Putin has planned in his political agenda."

He aims to facilitate Russia's efforts to undermine other former Soviet republics, and surprisingly, Lukashenko is Putin's ally in this endeavor. Because the more states resemble Belarus, the more obvious and inevitable will be the role that Lukashenko plays in his own state today. A role of a corrupt and self-centered enemy of the national interests of Belarus and its people.

In a situation where Lukashenko is effectively held hostage by his own security forces and those of the Russian Federation, all that remains for this dictator is the role that Vladimir Putin offers him, which is simply dictated by the Kremlin. And in this scenario, of course, he can afford a theatrical performance near the border with Lithuania.

"Lukashenko understands perfectly well that in a direct confrontation with the armies of NATO countries, both Russia and Belarus face a devastating defeat, and both dictators would likely face years of imprisonment following the collapse of their states."

It seems to me that even the recent terrorist act at Crocus City Hall demonstrated the complete helplessness and incompetence of Russian security forces, even in dealing with terrorist organizations. So what kind of war with modern armies can Putin and Lukashenko dream of?

However, Lukashenko doesn't seek to wage war; he aims to intimidate. He tries to create a propaganda image of a threat that, from his own logic and the logic of his Kremlin patron, should paralyze the West, thus creating conditions for further aggressive actions by the Russian Federation and its allies in the post-Soviet space, and possibly in Central Europe as well. After all, the best European for Putin and Lukashenko is a frightened European.


About the author. Vitaly Portnikov, journalist, Shevchenko National Prize winner

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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