“Counterweight to NATO”: Lukashenko wants to modernize the Eastern Alliance

“Counterweight to NATO”
Lukashenko wants to modernize the Eastern Alliance

As NATO expands with Finland and Sweden, the eastern military alliance CSTO meets in Moscow. Belarusian leader Lukashenko calls for rearmament. However, he has so far largely kept his country out of Putin’s war on Ukraine.

Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has called for the strengthening of a Russian-led military alliance as a counterweight to NATO. “The CSTO (the Collective Security Treaty Organization) must massively consolidate its status in the international system of control and separation of powers,” Lukashenko said today, according to Belarusian news agency Belta, during a an alliance meeting in Moscow. Russia cannot fight NATO enlargement alone, he added. Lukashenko, who is often criticized as “Europe’s last dictator”, justified Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on NATO’s rearmament in Eastern Europe and its activities in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned NATO against arming potential new members Sweden and Finland. Russia has no problem with the two countries, including with regard to their foreseeable NATO membership, Putin said at the CSTO meeting in Moscow. “But the expansion of military infrastructure in this area would certainly provoke a response from us,” Putin said.

Belarus reinforces its troops on the Ukrainian border

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Putin shows Lukashenko his place for the group photo: CSTO meeting in Moscow.

(Photo: IMAGO/ITAR-TASS)

Besides Russia and Belarus, the CSTO also includes the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The armies of other countries, including Belarus, have not yet joined the Russian war against Ukraine. However, the Russian attack was partly carried out from Belarusian territory. However, it was used as a staging point for Russian advances on kyiv and Chernihiv and for airstrikes. The West therefore imposed sanctions not only on Moscow but also on Minsk. It was only on Sunday that Belarusian leaders estimated the damage from the sanctions at between $16 billion and $18 billion.

According to estimates by the British secret service, Belarus will probably immobilize the military forces of the neighboring country by stationing troops on the border with Ukraine. According to a report from the Ministry of Defense in London, Minsk wants to send special forces, air defense, artillery units and rocket launchers to training areas in the west of the country. This “will likely tie up Ukrainian troops so that they cannot be deployed to support Donbass”.

Contrary to early speculation, Belarusian troops are still not involved in combat operations, according to the report. Lukashenko weighs the balance between supporting Russia and avoiding direct military involvement. Such involvement could lead to further Western sanctions, retaliatory strikes from Ukraine and discontent within the country’s military.

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