Putin may exploit disarray in Washington to launch attack on Belarus, Minsk experts say

The Russian propaganda poster says: "Tank tours over Europe. Diesel fuel is ours, the impressions are yours! Battalions depart in the order of forming" (Image: narod.ru)

The Russian propaganda poster says: "Tank tours over Europe. Diesel fuel is ours, the impressions are yours! Battalions depart in the order of forming" (Image: narod.ru) 

2017/02/07 - 22:20 • Analysis & Opinion, Belarus, Military analysis, Politics, Russia

Two experts at the Minsk Center for Strategic and International Research say that Vladimir Putin may use the current policy disarray in Washington to launch an attack on Belarus, one that could range of a “hybrid” one to the open use of massive military force.

Arseny Sivitsky and Yuri Tsarik (L-R)

Arseny Sivitsky and Yuri Tsarik (L-R)

In an interview with Radio Liberty’s Kseniya Kirillova, Arseny Sivitsky, the director of that center, and Yuri Tsarik, head of the Russian studies program there, say that confusion in Washington and Donald Trump’s focus on other issues may open the way for Putin to make Belarus his next foreign target.

At the same time, the two say, many in Moscow believe that the price Donald Trump may require Russia to pay will exceed Moscow’s willingness or even ability to do so and that Russia should take advantage of the current confusion about how much the US will now support NATO or how far a US-Russian rapprochement will go to press its advantages in the region.

If such people gain the upper hand or if Putin concludes that he can win a quick victory and boost his standing at home, then Moscow will likely launch a “hybrid” war against Belarus in the near future, a war in which Moscow has no advantages but one, the two experts suggest, it has less than a 50 percent chance of success.

If Moscow did succeed, Belarus would become a place d’armes for further Russian military moves against Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia; and, if NATO tried to block that, Sivitsky says, “Moscow could use tactical nuclear weapons in the region,” a possibility that was considered at recent war games in Warsaw.

On those games and that possibility, see my essay, “Are Moscow and the West Swapping Positions on Belarus?” Jamestown EDM, January 31, 2017

Moscow’s efforts to promote a hybrid war are unlikely to succeed and even its open use of massive military force there might not produce the outcome it wants because there would not only be resistance from Minsk and the Belarusian people but also from cooperation with Ukraine, Poland and possibly others as well.

“Therefore,” Sivitsky says, “Moscow’s chances for a repetition of the Crimean or Donbas scenario in military terms are very low,” especially because Belarus has been paying attention to what Moscow has done in Ukraine and is taking steps at home to be ready to oppose similar things on its own territory.

Nonetheless, Tsarik says, there are numerous signs of Russian activity inside Belarus that show Moscow plans to apply the scenario it did in Ukraine, including disordering the elite and penetrating various social and political organizations, including false flag financing of supposedly nationalist groups to set the stage for provocations Moscow can try to exploit.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Brent

    If Putin tried to pull off an invasion of Belarus, it would be a clear signal to Europe that he is not just interested in recreating some fabled “Novorossiya” in Ukraine and that his long term goal is the “Eurasian Union” envisioned by whacko Alexander Dugin.

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/03/09/putin-long-game-meet-eurasian-union/1eKLXEC3TJfzqK54elX5fL/story.html

    I wonder if Viktor Orban will cozy up to him knowing Hungary might then be next?

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Orban might…… but I don’t believe the Hungarian people will agree. Most will remember 45 years of occupation, the brutal suppression of the 1956 revolt etc etc. Dwarfstan has nothing positive to offer the Hungarian people- heck, it doesn’t even have anything positive to offer the people of Dwarfstan itself!

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      The dwarf definitely wants to recreate his beloved USSR, but not one of the former SSRs will voluntarily join Dwarfstan, with the possible exception of Belarus. I’m not at all convinced that the Belarusians will defend their country like the Ukrainians are defending theirs, if the dwarf does indeed invade.
      Belarus is a soft target for the dwarf and I’m still surprised that he hasn’t sent in his “little green men” yet.

      • Alex George

        The history, demographics and attitudes of Belarusian people indicate that Ukrainian style resistance is more likely there than in Ukraine.

        As your last sentence implies, if it was so easy to take over Belarus, Putin would have done it a long time ago.

      • Oknemfrod

        I’m not surprised. Belarus is a soft target against a full frontal attack for obvious reasons – though even that wouldn’t be a cakewalk. But the little green men scenario a la Ukraine is impossible in Belarus for the absence of the key factors which have made it successful in Crimea and partially so – in Donbas. In Crimea, it was the surprise factor, weak government in transition, the large Russian contingent already stationed there, the marionette local government, and the armed forces decimated by Yanuk. Even so, if the ATO had started sooner and more resolutely, nothing of note would have happened even in Donetsk and Luhansk because all those flare-ups would’ve been nipped in the bud.

        None of those factors are present in Belarus. Lukashenka (aka “Bat’ka”) fully expects the scenario and have contingency plans and rapid reaction force on the ready – sufficient to squash the kolorado bugs at once if they should stir a disturbance. And judging from how he’s dealt with his internal opposition, he is all but soft and/or indecisive, plus he’s a de facto dictator fully in control of all repressive means at his disposal. Besides, he’s no doubt studied the Ukrainian green men adventure, learned from it, and keeps his powder bone dry.

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          But how loyal are the Belarusian armed forces and the KGB to the country and Lukashenko, especially the leaders of those organisations???

          • MichaelA

            Why would they not be?

          • Oknemfrod

            What are their alternatives? One – Lukashenka. Two – Putin. I see no reason why they would prefer the latter to the former. Both feed their henchmen well, but as Belorusians say, “свая кашуля бліжэй да цела” (one’s own shirt is closer to the body).

        • Dr. Preobrazhensky

          There’s another theory (who knows how realistic) that this Belarus-Russia conflict is a sort of maskirovka and that massing Russian troops will go through Belarus and into Kiev from the north in a surprise assault (does Ukraine have many troops up there?).

          • Oknemfrod

            Any theory has a right to exist. But as you know, its soundness is verified by an experimentum crucis. Then if it’s confurmed, it becomes a theory, of which the physicists say that the most practical thing is a good theory.

    • Alex George

      Good point Brent. I think any further aggression would rapidly lose Putin most of the friend he has got in the region, and particularly in Hungary.

    • Xeroi Ato

      Russian doesn’t even have a border with Hungary genius. It’s border is like 1000 kilometers away. Might as well talk about an invasion of Slovenia in the middle of fuck knows were by Russian border distance.

      • MichaelA

        Sure – Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus – each time the border with Hungary gets closer

      • Brent

        Looks like I’ve got to “eksplane” this to you “ZERO”…..

        PUTIN IS LOOKING FOR USEFUL IDIOT NATIONS WHO WOULD WILLINGLY ACCEPT RUSSIAN TROOPS UNDER SOME FALSE CLAIMS OF “PROTECTING” THEM.

        You really aren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, are you?

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b0080d6decfd25f3adaf231014c9113bc63d3d96f4af4179f4aae20bb140743f.jpg

        • Murf

          MAL!
          I knew there was something I liked about you.

      • Oknemfrod

        In 1956, Russia didn’t have a border with Hungary, either. It didn’t prevent it from invading the country and slaughtering thousands of Hungarians just for their desire not to be ruled from the Kremlin. Perhaps at the time Russia deemed the border between Ukraine and Hungary “theirs” – which, judging from the Kremlin’s rhetoric, is no different from now. Never heard of any of that, “genius”, eh?

  • veth

    Broke Russia is more and more desperate by the day.

  • Dirk Smith

    Desperate actions from a dying regime. Remove this filth from the kremlin via deeper sanctions and then partition third-world ruSSia like Yugoslavia. Oh, and relocate the 2018 World Cup to Ukraine/Georgia for reparations.

  • Murf

    I doubt Putinwill make a move at this time.
    He is very bold but not rash.
    He will take some time and get Trump’s measure before he risks alienating him increasing sanctions.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Au contraire, the dwarf is getting desperate. Time and rubbles are running out. Tatyana Golikova, head of Dwarfstan’s National Accounting Chamber stated in December last year that the Reserve Fund will be emptied in 2017, leaving only the National Welfare Fund left to plug the gaps in the state budget, i.e. finance the dwarf’s wars in the Donbas and Syria. This fund is intended for pensions and other social expenses, which means that at the end of the day there may well be no rubbles for pensions.
      The dwarf needs a new success- and badly. The effect of “Krim nash!” has worn off, and the Ukrainians aren’t going to give in. The Dwarfstanian economy is in bad shape and won’t pick up soon. And what easier picking than Belarus, which is totally dependent on Dwarfstan economically? Lukashenko refuses to give the dwarf more bases in Belarus, which the dwarf wants in part to wage war against Kyiv from. The sudden introduction of controls at the border with Belarus is a stage in the escalation of tension with Minsk, which I believe will lead to an influx of “little green men” sooner or later. And with the Belarusian armed forces and KGB riddled with pro-Dwarfstan moles to an even greater extent than the Ukrainian armed forces and SBU were I’m not at all convinced that there will be any serious resistance.

  • Xeroi Ato

    Someone explain why you would ever intervine in Belarus aside from supporting the current regime, or placing your own puppets. What the hell is the point of actually rolling tanks into Belarus.

    • MichaelA

      support the current regime? are you nuts?

      putin would replace lukashenko if he could

    • Eddy Verhaeghe

      Most probably you reasoned in the same way about the possibility of a Russian intervention in Ukrainian affairs a few years ago…

  • zorbatheturk

    Any attack on Belarus will really stretch the ruSSian ” volunteers “.