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SEPTEMBER 2020

Lukashenko & Zelensky Forging Ukrainian-Belarusian Front Against Russia

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Lukashenko & Zelensky Forging Ukrainian-Belarusian Front Against Russia

ILLUSTRATIVE IMAGE

Negative tendencies have been ramping up in Eastern Europe. Now, it seems that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko seem to be forging a new anti-Russian alliance and fueling tensions in the region for own political purposes.

The two presidents held a phone call during which they discussed the extradition (!) of 33 Russians to Ukraine that the Lukashenko government detained near Minsk. Lukashenko claims that the detained Russians are members of the ‘Wagner’ private military company (that does not exist officially) and came to Belarus to stage ‘terrorist attacks’ and a coup against Lukashenko. While the detained persons were indeed some private military contractors, the public evidence allows to conclude that they were moving through Belarus to Turkey. Then, they were planning to deploy in some Middle Eastern and African countries. The Russians were detained in Belarus as a part of Lukashenko’s political game ahead of the presidential election. Over the past years, Minsk has already made several publicly anti-Russian steps aiming to pressure the Kremlin to continue sponsoring the Lukashenko regime despite its inability to act like a Russian ally.

In this light, Lukashenko found an understanding in Ukraine, which since its first day of independence has been receiving direct and indirect donatinos from Russia. These donations did not stop even, when the post-2014 coup regime came to power and started a terror against ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking part of the population. This expectedly led to the separation of Crimea and a civil war in eastern Ukraine that was blamed on Russia. Kiev still believes that Moscow somehow must sponsor its economy and actions.

At the same time, both countries face significant economic and social difficulties. The popularity of the Ukrainian and Belarusian governments are quite low and falling.  So, Zelensky and Luakshenko apparently decided to coordinate their efforts in getting some resources  and political profit from foreign sponsors thanks to exploting of the ‘Russian threat’. President Zelensky is even planning a visit to Belarus.

As to the Kiev regime, the ‘extradition’ of the illegally detained Russians is finally a real chance to capture some Russian citizens. So far, the overwhelming majority of people involved in the prisoner swaps between Kiev and the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics is Ukrainians. This fact contradicts the main mainstream version claiming that the mighty Ukrainian Army and government-funded Nazis are fighting the ‘Russian Army’ in the region of Donbass.

The Belarusian-Ukrainian ‘anti-Russian front’ is being forged amid the following developments:

Ukraine

The ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the forces of the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics began on July 27th.

A little bit over a week has passed, and it is barely holding, and it appears that prospects for it actually lasting longer than the previous 30 attempts are slim.

On August 3rd, the SMM OSCE released its daily report, which also said that between July 27th and 19:30 local time on August 3rd, there have been a total of 246 ceasefire violations.

Evidently, there is improvement, but the violations continue.

The disengagement of forces is also not particularly effective.

Below are direct citations of what the SMM observed:

  • On August 3rd, inside the disengagement area near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM saw three members of the armed formations (wearing armbands with “JCCC” written on them) between the new span of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge and their checkpoint south of it.
  • On July 31st, inside the disengagement area near Zolote, an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted an armoured light utility vehicle (Kozak-2) in the south-eastern part of Katerynivka (government-controlled, 64km west of Luhansk), near a former position of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
  • On August 3rd, near the checkpoint of the armed formations south of the disengagement area, the Mission saw six members of the armed formations (wearing armbands with “JCCC” written on them), two of whom it saw entering the disengagement area, walking about 350m north inside the disengagement area and then returning.

These are the most notable, showing activity on the side of the Ukrainian armed forces. On the side of the DPR/LPR, the reports of spotting individuals near the disengagement area are usually just workers, fixing roads or something of the sort.

Lukashenko & Zelensky Forging Ukrainian-Belarusian Front Against Russia

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On August 2nd and 3rd, the SMM also noted new trenches in government-controlled areas on the approaches towards Donetsk, and these trenches don’t dig themselves, also they are being created for a reason, which is likely to be revealed soon.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles in the security zone in government-controlled areas of Donetsk region and in non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The DPR and LPR also reported similar situations, with some violations from the side of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but much less than before.

On July 31st, the DPR announced only one incident of violation of the truce – the shelling of DPR positions in the area of ​​the village of Yakovlevka. On other days no fire was recorded.

The LPR said that on the last day of July, several grenades from a Ukrainian quadcopter were dropped on their positions, two soldiers were injured. Also, on July 29-30, the LPR announced three shelling in the Novotoshkovsky-Golubovsky area.

This ceasefire was supposed to be different from the others.

According to the agreements on the current ceasefire, it is now completely forbidden to conduct reconnaissance, sabotage, launch drones, hold positions in the “gray” zone, and conduct sniper fire.

Special officers with experience in peacekeeping missions arrived at the front line to control the ceasefire. All the bans were fixed by orders of the commanders – the OOS and the “people’s militia” of the DPR/LPR.

Regardless of the ceasefire, the Ukrainian government, under President Volodymyr Zelensky are undermining the Minsk agreements.

For example, in Ukrainian Parliament, Zelensky’s party appointed local elections in Ukraine for October 25th everywhere, except for the uncontrolled territories of Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. This is something that Kiev has agreed not to carry out under the Minsk agreements.

The explanation of this is that Ukraine would not allow for elections in the territories that aren’t under its control, until the DPR and LPR and Russia give away border control to Ukraine. Which is unlikely to happen.

As a result, the Ukrainian authorities are hampering the political settlement of the conflict in Donbas. And without a political settlement, the conflict can flare up with renewed vigor at any moment, despite any truce.

Note that recently, President Zelensky gave a reason to talk about possible progress in this matter. On the eve of the armistice in Donbass, Vladimir Zelensky called his Russian counterpart. During a conversation with Vladimir Putin, the Ukrainian president raised the topic of changes to the Constitution in terms of decentralization.

This could specifically refer to changes in the Ukrainian Constitution, but still Eastern Ukraine receives no special status, which is unacceptable to Russia and the DPR/LPR.

Belarus

In Belarus, President Lukashenko (in power since 1994) is struggling to deal with the new wave of popular resistance in the country. The ineffective economic policy and deep corruption of the existing political regime was for a long time compesnated by a direct and indirect economic support from Russia. Nonetheless, political games of the Lukashenko government, public delcarations of cooperation with Russia’s competitors, first of all the US and the EU bureaucracy, and an anti-Russian stance of the supposed Russian ally on the international arena (Belarus did not recognize Crimea as a part of Russia and keeps at least a slightly anti-Russian stance towards the conflict in Ukraine) led to the apparent problem of the Lukashenko government. Another important factor became the open sabotage of the intergration agreements with Russia reached years ago, but still not implemented by Minsk.

The Union State of Russia and Belarus a supranational union consisting of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus. It was founded in 1996 and granted notable economic preferences to Belarus, its citizens and goods. Nonetheless, Minsk is actively sabotage any real implementation of the political part of the agreement, which includes the creation of supranational bodies. This explains why Lukashenko is so scared by ‘pro-Russian forces’ in his country and keeps a blind eye towards actions of various radical nationalist and anti-Russian groups.

Radicals and Belarusian ‘patriots’ funded by the West are yet to start open attacks on ethnic Russians and people that support the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchy) like their Ukrainian friends have been doing for years. The Ukrainian government and pro-government groups turned the violence into a common tool of policy in the Kiev-controlled part of Ukraine. Terrorist attacks, shootings and grenade explosions already became a sad everyday reality there.

A sniper kills a gunman involved in the hostage incident in Ukraine’s Poltava:

Nonetheless, if they come to power, Ukraine-styled religious, political and ethnic terror will likely start in the observable future. Meanwhile, these groups do not like and do not support Poroshenko, mostly relying on the pro-Western ideology. It will not be a surprise if they even try to set up its own ‘independent’ Orthodox Church to combat the ‘Russian ideology’ in Belarus.

At the same time, Lukashenko’s own actions distanced himself from the majority of population that links its economic wealth with Russia, has a positive view towards Russia and speaks Russian.

The presidential election in Belarus is set to be held on August 9. While it’s expected that Lukashenko will win the election in one or another way, the legitimacy of this expected victory will be very questionable in the view of the country’s population. This, as well as economic, social issues and Lukashenko’s own actions of undermining relations with Belarus’ only really ally, creates conditions for the further destabilization.

Attempts of Lukashenko to strengthen his own positions by cooperating with Ukraine against Russia raise eyebrows. The Lukashenko government is just digging a pit for itself.

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