Lukashenko considers establishing Moscow military base, but denies
The “theory” about the deployment a Russian military base in Belarus as a response to the deployment of a large U.S. base in Poland existed a little longer than a week. The reports about it and analytical substantiation of the Moscow and Minsk actions alarmed the West so much, that it has immediately started to probe the situation — a group of American analysts was sent to Belarus.
The end of the hysteria was put by President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. At a meeting with American analysts, he said: “Being foreign policy experts, you understand all the risks that any military confrontation between the West and the East can bring. Our country is absolutely not interested in conflicts, either hot or frozen, be it a neighboring country or our own territory," Lukashenko stressed that the military doctrine of Belarus is of an exclusively defensive nature.
"The need for a Russian military base is a far-fetched issue. We are in a military and political alliance with Russia. There would be no difference whether or not a military base is set up here. We are not hosting this base only because we want to show that we are sovereign and independent, we are not hosting it because we do not need it – we will fulfill our duties ourselves, in accordance with our ideas and military and defense plan with Russia," Lukashenko said, stressing that the deployment of such a base on the territory of Belarus makes no sense. According to him, deploying an air base is especially useless, since if necessary, the estimated time of arrival of any aircraft from Russia is less than 5 minutes - "so why do we need to become a target for a potential aggressor by deploying an air base."
Actually, Lukashenko was himself involved in the turmoil. His recent vague statement that Moscow and Minsk will have to respond to the deployment of "extra" military bases in Poland was interpreted in Washington as an intention to deploy a joint Russian-Belarusian military base on the territory of Belarus. This, by the way, was not the first ambiguous remark by Minsk about the appearance of a U.S. armored division in Poland on a permanent basis.
Earlier, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said he did not rule out the deployment of a foreign military base in the republic. But this statement was actually disavowed by the Russian ambassador to Minsk, Alexander Surikov, who said that the parties “are not conducting negotiations on the Russian military base, but “if such an issue is raised, we will discuss it”.
According to local media, there are two Russian military bases operating on the territory of Belarus today: the Volga radar station, which is part of the missile attack warning system, and the Russian Navy communications center.
According to some experts, Washington's challenge in the form of an armor division base in Poland can only strengthen military relations between Moscow and Minsk. The partnership between Russia and Belarus, in addition to cooperation within the CSTO, is expressed in regular joint exercises. In particular, the West-2017 exercises were held last year, which allowed Moscow and Minsk to assess the degree of readiness of both their troops. The West 2017 exercises were also useful in helping to identify a certain difference between the level of training in the Russian and Belarusian troops, and, as experts say, this difference cannot be leveled unilaterally, which also actualizes the issue of integration in the military sphere.
And then the position of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko raises the question, who does not want to make the final big step, limiting himself to what he has, and sometimes is okay with an outright speculation about the Union State of Russia and Belarus - like, a common state has already been created, what else?
According to most Belarusian political scientists, Lukashenko fears not only a decline in the sovereignty of his state, although he cannot be called indifferent in this matter, but rather a weakening of his own power, which cannot be ruled out to a greater or lesser extent during integration processes. Therefore, whenever the situation seems to be overdue, the Belarusian leader finds reasons for maintaining the status quo in Russian-Belarusian relations.
He provides enthusiastic comments on such statements by Moscow as the recent one, that any military attack on Belarus will be regarded by Moscow as an attack on Russia with all the relevant consequences. And he does not stint on similar ones in return. And in fact, it is possible that he will not forget about the allied duty if something happens. However, Lukashenko will avoid everything which even theoretically threats his sole authority in Belarus, unless the threat does not arise ... to his personal power.