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Republic of Belarus Takes a New Approach to Defense and Security: Reasons and Implications of Fundamental Change

photo: independent.co.uk
29 May 2024
Alexander Shpakovsky Alexander Shpakovsky

Alexander Shpakovsky

Minister-Counselor of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus to the Russian Federation, deputy of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, member of the Standing Commission on International Affairs. Delegate to the VII All-Belarusian People's Assembly

Over the last few years the Republic of Belarus made a fundamental change in its security and defense policy, initiated by the constitutional reform in 2021. Exclusion of the non-nuclear status commitment from the countrys Constitution allowed Minsk to have Russian tactical nuclear weapons deployed on its territory, as a security guarantee and an asymmetrical response to the unprecedented military and political escalation globally, and especially in Central Europe. The defense reform process culminated with the adoption of new versions of the strategic doctrinal documents the updated National Security Concept and Military Doctrine approved by the VII All-Belarusian People's Assembly, which held its first session as the highest constitutional body of power in Minsk in April 24-25, 2024.

«The Grand Chessboard»: the Game of Geopolitics in the Post-Soviet Area

Analysis of the current geopolitical situation and the processes underway in the post-Soviet countries suggests that the attempted coup which took place in Belarus in the wake of 2020 presidential elections was not just a local operation by the collective West with the purpose to topple the legitimate government in a single country, but rather a key component of a broader operational intent, targeting primarily Russia and afterwards, China. Systematic eastward expansion of NATOs offensive infrastructure, attempts to breach the unity of the post-Soviet states through «colored revolutions» that bring puppet politicians to power, injection of Rusophobic historic narratives into popular consciousness, and unleashing of armed conflicts all this constitutes the realities of the last 30 years. This was the result of deliberate action of external forces that skillfully took advantage of negative situations internally.

It seems relevant in this respect to mention the canonical book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives. In his discourse around US imperialistic interests, the guru of American geopolitics Zbigniew Brzezinski came up with the formula: «Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire» [1]. Notably, The Grand Chessboard was published in 1997, the same year when the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership was signed between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Ukraine. So the seeds of the ongoing armed conflict between Russia and the West on the territory of Ukraine, caused in no small measure by the North Atlantic alliances military expansion, were sown almost 30 years ago, when most of the emergent post-Soviet states, including the Russian Federation, were passionate about «universal human values» and «ideals of democracy», while the US consistently operated with the categories of «national priorities», «global supremacy» and «containment of potential competitors».

In our opinion, excluding Russia from the circle of geostrategic players is actually the invariable goal pursued by Washington and the Western world at large in their policy towards the countries of the former Soviet Union. Indeed, if it is true that «without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire», then without Belarus as ally, the role of Moscow as a unifying center of Eastern Slavdom is eroded; and without partnership of the states of Central Asia and the Trans-Caucasian region, the Russian Federation is risking its regional superpower status, which, in turn, makes equal partnership with China problematic and exacerbates its competitive disadvantage against the West. A weakened Russia engaged in a number of regional conflicts will not strengthen China; on the contrary, it will upset Beijings plans under the Belt and Road initiative and will hinder the implementation of the «Community of a Shared Future for Mankind» concept.

Coming back to Brzezinskis reasoning, it pays to remember that, in case of «Ukraine's choice in favor of Europe», the US geostrategist put forward two historical scenarios for the Russian Federation: «either to be a part of Europe as well or to  become a Eurasian outcast, neither truly of Europe nor Asia and mired in its «near abroad» conflicts» [2].

In light of the above, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrovs statement that «the West aims to encircle Russia with a «sanitary cordon», turning it into a pariah state», appears to be justified [3]. These malicious intents became very evident during the 2022-2024 military engagement in Ukraine when the USA, EU and their satellites forwarded «assistance» to the Kiev regime in excess of $300 bn, while Western politicians contended with each other in bloodthirstiness of their statements with demands to «defeat Russia on the battlefield», «kill as many Russians as possible», «bring Moscow to its knees», etc. The political atmosphere of our times is once again poisoned by the stench of Nazism, even though the very source of those ideas is hidden below the surface of modernity as follows in fact from Brzezinskis ideas: he appears to have spoken not only on his own behalf but primarily on behalf of vested financial and political interests.

The Significance of Belarus for the Russian Civilization Orbit

It is noteworthy that, speaking at a rally of his supporters on August 16, 2020, on the fateful days when Belarus faced the threat of a coup, Alexander Lukashenko revealed the coupists goals pointing out: «Once again we were offered a «lantsug» («chain») from Vilnius to Kiev. That is the sanitary cordon that we destroyed in the mid-1990s» [4]. It means that the Belarusian government at that time was fully aware of the geopolitical nature of the events as they developed, relying on open source analysis, but also on intelligence obtained through security services and diplomatic channels.

In that regard, it should be recalled that, ever since Alexander Lukashenko assumed presidency in 1994, the Republic of Belarus has pursued a consistent policy towards building the closest possible alliance with Russia. Despite all the difficulties, Belarus and Russia succeeded in creating a forward-looking integrative format of the Union State. The two sovereign states formed a close military and political alliance, Minsk becoming the center of reintegration processes among the post-Soviet countries.

Alexander Lukashenko, acting together with Vladimir Putin and Nursultan Nazarbayev, initiated the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union, with CSTO eventually to become its defensive military arm, as proposed by the Belarusian leader. Later on, by providing a platform for the signing of the «Minsk accords» and the tripartite negotiation, Belarus made political and diplomatic steps to prevent the conflict in Ukraine from escalating into an all-out war. This, however, was contrary to what the West was planning namely, to inflict geopolitical defeat on Russia using the Kiev regime as a weapon.

As can be seen from the above, the military strategic importance of Belarus (the so called «Belarusian Balcony»), the compromise-seeking, «union-type» diplomacy of the official Minsk, and its insistence on uncompromising sovereignty in domestic policy resting upon strong leadership qualities of our president predetermined the aggressive stance of the EU and USA against the Belarusian state. On the eve of 2020 presidential elections, the State Secretariat of the Security Council of Belarus released research data demonstrating that not a single elections campaign that the country went through since 1994 proceeded without aggressive outside interference; in recent history, the republic has faced six «color revolution» attempts [5].

The West later launched a seventh, the largest ever attempt at coup d'état, thwarted by Belarusian law enforcement agencies and defeated by the healthy majority of the people, not allowing external forces to plunge the state into administrative chaos and use the countrys territory as just another square on the «grand chessboard» of global standoff. Still, the failed «color revolution» was followed by attempts to organize underground sabotage and terrorist groups, a plot to assassinate the head of state and his official family (successfully prevented by a joint operation of Belarusian and Russian special forces), and formation of armed gangs made up of fugitive extremists. It has become clear that the primary concern for Belarus is not political but rather hybrid military challenges, which turned into a direct military threat after Russia started its special military operation in Ukraine.

Creeping Militarization of Poland

Apprehensions of aggression from abroad are corroborated by a rapid increase in military budgets of the neighboring NATO states, especially Poland, which became the North Atlantic leader in this respect (4.2% of GDP, or $39.7 bn). The creeping militarization of Polands national policy does not appear to be a whim of the moment, but rather an outcome of long-term planning. Warsaw takes incremental steps to build up its military strength and boosts defense spending, both to upgrade the existing capacity and acquire new arms and military equipment. According to open source data, Polands military expenses quadrupled since 2015. The country signed contracts with US defense industries to purchase 500 HIMARS MLRS launcher loader module, 32 F-35 fighter jets, a big consignment of Apache helicopters, 250 Abrams tanks, and Patriot ADMS. Of special interest is the contract between Poland and South Korea to supply tanks and howitzers, with a total value exceeding $14 bn [6].

It is also expected that by the end of 2024 the Polish army personnel strength may reach 220 thousand, and Warsaws intention is to eventually enhance its armed forces to 300 thousand to create «the most powerful ground army in Europe». The General Staff of Poland is also planning to organize two new divisions to be deployed in the eastern part of the country, i.e. in the immediate vicinity to the border of the Republic of Belarus.

Meanwhile, the Polish governments arguments about «protection against threats from Belarus and Russia» are disproved by the offensive nature of the weaponry being acquired and also by the fact that the Polish armys large-scale modernization program was launched back in 2012, that is, long before the «Crimea events»; which means it was designed even before that time. Furthermore, claims of any «threats» to Poland from Belarus sound ridiculous, not only because of significant difference in military capability but also because it was Warsaw that has impudently interfered with domestic policy of Belarus over the past decades, and not the other way round. A strong anti-Belarusian and anti-Russian consensus has developed among the Polish ruling classes, and the partial change of power, with the right-wing conservative nationalist party Law and Justice (PiS) marginalized and the Donald Tusk coalition government voted in, had no significant effect either on Warsaws policy vis-a-vis eastern neighbors not on its aggressive military planning.

Military and political analysis of the regional situation would be incomplete without mentioning the 10 thousand NATO (US) soldiers stationed on the Polish territory. Although Washington has repeatedly denied Warsaw's requests to increase the US military presence and deploy US nuclear weapons in Poland, one should bear in mind that decisions of this kind can be taken and implemented in a relatively short time. According to a recent statement by Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Army Karol Dymanowski, at least «300 thousand NATO soldiers are ready to be relocated to Poland in case of military threat» (in fact, whenever needed and for the purpose of unleashing a war). The frequent NATO military exercises conducted in Poland and the Baltic states, involve offensive combat training with Alliance troops rotationally studying the potential theater of operations.

The Belarusian Response: Reading Security Doctrinal Documents

The military and political leadership of Belarus takes into consideration all of the above described factors and regards the actions of the collective West as preparation for an intervention. According to Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin, the region is witnessing «pre-considered set of measures being implemented by Western Europe, led by the United States, to prepare for military action». For his part, when speaking to a meeting of leadership of national security bodies President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko urged the nation to get prepared for a third world war «both mentally and strategically», pointing out that concerns about this course of events are not unfounded. «We dont need war, and we must be prepared for it both mentally and strategically. We need to acknowledge how serious the situation is. Lets drop all illusions about the possibility of a diplomatic settlement of the global conflict. International law is also unable to relieve tensions», the head of state said [7].

In this respect Minsk, on the one hand, takes effective steps to retrofit the Belarusian army with due account of modern war experience, and on the other, being unable to join an exhaustive arms race, takes preventive deterrence decisions. As stated in the updated Military Doctrine, the Republic of Belarus, as before, is characterized as a «peace-loving state», the deployment of the Russian Federations nuclear weapons on its territory being considered as «an important component of preventive deterrence of potential adversaries from unleashing an armed aggression». At the same time, Minsk deems it legitimate to use military force in times of peace to deter other states from aggression against Belarus and prevent domestic destabilization through crisis response; it also states its determination to protect its national interests and the common interests of member countries of military-political associations of which Belarus is part, using all the means at the disposal of the state [8].

The updated National Security Concept also recognizes the realities of todays world, the altered nature of risks, challenges and threats. The document talks extensively about the strategic alliance with Russia, provides for a stronger and comprehensive partnership with China as well as cooperation with other friendly countries within the framework of integration associations. The following main threats are identified: economic sanctions, attacks on independence and violation of territorial integrity, outside interference in domestic affairs, manifestations of extremism, terrorism, activity of foreign intelligence agencies, destruction of the international security architecture, preparations for the use of military force against Belarus, and escalating confrontation between the society and the state [9].

The years 2021-2024 thus saw a substantial transformation of the way Belarus perceives itself within the system of international relations, given the alarming circumstances of today. In fact, it underwent involuntary transition from a nuclear-free country observing neutrality to a country with tactical nuclear weapons deployed on its territory, prepared to apply all its resources and capabilities to defend itself and its allies. While adhering to the principles of peaceful foreign policy, Minsk is clear-eyed about the current military and political situation, which, unfortunately, tends to further deteriorate. The defense and security strategy adopted by the Republic of Belarus is fully reflective of the urgency of the historical situation, adequately responding to the threats and challenges from the Western camp whose members are frantically clinging to global dominance which is already slipping out of their hands. The collective Wests aggressive actions against Belarus not only failed to disrupt its constitutional order and trigger a violent takeover of state power in the Ukrainian style, but, on the contrary, strengthened the government and the patriotic public institutions, encouraging Russia and Belarus to resolve their minor differences and achieve an integrative breakthrough in their allied relations.

1. Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives.

2. Russias Place on Brzeziskis  Chessboard. Forbes Kazakhstan. 30.05.2014. https://forbes.kz/news/newsid_59810

3. Lavrov: The West aims to encircle Russia with a «sanitary cordon», turning it into pariah state. TASS. 23.02.2023. https://tass.ru/politika/17054635

4. Alexander Lukashenko: «Once again we were offered a «lantsug» from Vilnius to Kiev. That is the sanitary cordon that we destroyed in the mid-1990s». CTV, 16.08.2020. https://ctv.by/novosti-minska-i-minskoy-oblasti/aleksandr-lukashenko-nam-predlozhili-lancug-ot-vilnyusa-do-kieva

5. Belarusian Security Council reports six «color revolution» attempts. RIA Novosti, 05.08.2020. https://ria.ru/20200804/1575367000.html

6. South Korea to supply a record-breaking worth of arms to Poland, media report. RIA Novosti, 28.07.2022. https://ria.ru/20220728/oruzhie-1805467257.html

7. Lukashenko calls on Belarusians to get mentally ready for war. RBC, 20.02.2024. https://www.rbc.ru/politics/20/02/2024/65d470ca9a79473564424c3a

8. Military Doctrine of the Republic of Belarus https://pravo.by/document/?guid=12551&p0=P924v0006

9. Updated National Security Concept of Belarus published. Sputnik Belarus. 29.04.2024. https://sputnik.by/20240426/opublikovana-obnovlennaya-kontseptsiya-natsbezopasnosti-belarusi--1085751601.html

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Publications

Republic of Belarus Takes a New Approach to Defense and Security: Reasons and Implications of Fundamental Change

photo: independent.co.uk
29 2024
Alexander Shpakovsky

Alexander Shpakovsky

Minister-Counselor of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus to the Russian Federation, deputy of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, member of the Standing Commission on International Affairs. Delegate to the VII All-Belarusian People's Assembly

Over the last few years the Republic of Belarus made a fundamental change in its security and defense policy, initiated by the constitutional reform in 2021. Exclusion of the non-nuclear status commitment from the countrys Constitution allowed Minsk to have Russian tactical nuclear weapons deployed on its territory, as a security guarantee and an asymmetrical response to the unprecedented military and political escalation globally, and especially in Central Europe. The defense reform process culminated with the adoption of new versions of the strategic doctrinal documents the updated National Security Concept and Military Doctrine approved by the VII All-Belarusian People's Assembly, which held its first session as the highest constitutional body of power in Minsk in April 24-25, 2024.

«The Grand Chessboard»: the Game of Geopolitics in the Post-Soviet Area

Analysis of the current geopolitical situation and the processes underway in the post-Soviet countries suggests that the attempted coup which took place in Belarus in the wake of 2020 presidential elections was not just a local operation by the collective West with the purpose to topple the legitimate government in a single country, but rather a key component of a broader operational intent, targeting primarily Russia and afterwards, China. Systematic eastward expansion of NATOs offensive infrastructure, attempts to breach the unity of the post-Soviet states through «colored revolutions» that bring puppet politicians to power, injection of Rusophobic historic narratives into popular consciousness, and unleashing of armed conflicts all this constitutes the realities of the last 30 years. This was the result of deliberate action of external forces that skillfully took advantage of negative situations internally.

It seems relevant in this respect to mention the canonical book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives. In his discourse around US imperialistic interests, the guru of American geopolitics Zbigniew Brzezinski came up with the formula: «Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire» [1]. Notably, The Grand Chessboard was published in 1997, the same year when the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership was signed between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Ukraine. So the seeds of the ongoing armed conflict between Russia and the West on the territory of Ukraine, caused in no small measure by the North Atlantic alliances military expansion, were sown almost 30 years ago, when most of the emergent post-Soviet states, including the Russian Federation, were passionate about «universal human values» and «ideals of democracy», while the US consistently operated with the categories of «national priorities», «global supremacy» and «containment of potential competitors».

In our opinion, excluding Russia from the circle of geostrategic players is actually the invariable goal pursued by Washington and the Western world at large in their policy towards the countries of the former Soviet Union. Indeed, if it is true that «without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire», then without Belarus as ally, the role of Moscow as a unifying center of Eastern Slavdom is eroded; and without partnership of the states of Central Asia and the Trans-Caucasian region, the Russian Federation is risking its regional superpower status, which, in turn, makes equal partnership with China problematic and exacerbates its competitive disadvantage against the West. A weakened Russia engaged in a number of regional conflicts will not strengthen China; on the contrary, it will upset Beijings plans under the Belt and Road initiative and will hinder the implementation of the «Community of a Shared Future for Mankind» concept.

Coming back to Brzezinskis reasoning, it pays to remember that, in case of «Ukraine's choice in favor of Europe», the US geostrategist put forward two historical scenarios for the Russian Federation: «either to be a part of Europe as well or to  become a Eurasian outcast, neither truly of Europe nor Asia and mired in its «near abroad» conflicts» [2].

In light of the above, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrovs statement that «the West aims to encircle Russia with a «sanitary cordon», turning it into a pariah state», appears to be justified [3]. These malicious intents became very evident during the 2022-2024 military engagement in Ukraine when the USA, EU and their satellites forwarded «assistance» to the Kiev regime in excess of $300 bn, while Western politicians contended with each other in bloodthirstiness of their statements with demands to «defeat Russia on the battlefield», «kill as many Russians as possible», «bring Moscow to its knees», etc. The political atmosphere of our times is once again poisoned by the stench of Nazism, even though the very source of those ideas is hidden below the surface of modernity as follows in fact from Brzezinskis ideas: he appears to have spoken not only on his own behalf but primarily on behalf of vested financial and political interests.

The Significance of Belarus for the Russian Civilization Orbit

It is noteworthy that, speaking at a rally of his supporters on August 16, 2020, on the fateful days when Belarus faced the threat of a coup, Alexander Lukashenko revealed the coupists goals pointing out: «Once again we were offered a «lantsug» («chain») from Vilnius to Kiev. That is the sanitary cordon that we destroyed in the mid-1990s» [4]. It means that the Belarusian government at that time was fully aware of the geopolitical nature of the events as they developed, relying on open source analysis, but also on intelligence obtained through security services and diplomatic channels.

In that regard, it should be recalled that, ever since Alexander Lukashenko assumed presidency in 1994, the Republic of Belarus has pursued a consistent policy towards building the closest possible alliance with Russia. Despite all the difficulties, Belarus and Russia succeeded in creating a forward-looking integrative format of the Union State. The two sovereign states formed a close military and political alliance, Minsk becoming the center of reintegration processes among the post-Soviet countries.

Alexander Lukashenko, acting together with Vladimir Putin and Nursultan Nazarbayev, initiated the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union, with CSTO eventually to become its defensive military arm, as proposed by the Belarusian leader. Later on, by providing a platform for the signing of the «Minsk accords» and the tripartite negotiation, Belarus made political and diplomatic steps to prevent the conflict in Ukraine from escalating into an all-out war. This, however, was contrary to what the West was planning namely, to inflict geopolitical defeat on Russia using the Kiev regime as a weapon.

As can be seen from the above, the military strategic importance of Belarus (the so called «Belarusian Balcony»), the compromise-seeking, «union-type» diplomacy of the official Minsk, and its insistence on uncompromising sovereignty in domestic policy resting upon strong leadership qualities of our president predetermined the aggressive stance of the EU and USA against the Belarusian state. On the eve of 2020 presidential elections, the State Secretariat of the Security Council of Belarus released research data demonstrating that not a single elections campaign that the country went through since 1994 proceeded without aggressive outside interference; in recent history, the republic has faced six «color revolution» attempts [5].

The West later launched a seventh, the largest ever attempt at coup d'état, thwarted by Belarusian law enforcement agencies and defeated by the healthy majority of the people, not allowing external forces to plunge the state into administrative chaos and use the countrys territory as just another square on the «grand chessboard» of global standoff. Still, the failed «color revolution» was followed by attempts to organize underground sabotage and terrorist groups, a plot to assassinate the head of state and his official family (successfully prevented by a joint operation of Belarusian and Russian special forces), and formation of armed gangs made up of fugitive extremists. It has become clear that the primary concern for Belarus is not political but rather hybrid military challenges, which turned into a direct military threat after Russia started its special military operation in Ukraine.

Creeping Militarization of Poland

Apprehensions of aggression from abroad are corroborated by a rapid increase in military budgets of the neighboring NATO states, especially Poland, which became the North Atlantic leader in this respect (4.2% of GDP, or $39.7 bn). The creeping militarization of Polands national policy does not appear to be a whim of the moment, but rather an outcome of long-term planning. Warsaw takes incremental steps to build up its military strength and boosts defense spending, both to upgrade the existing capacity and acquire new arms and military equipment. According to open source data, Polands military expenses quadrupled since 2015. The country signed contracts with US defense industries to purchase 500 HIMARS MLRS launcher loader module, 32 F-35 fighter jets, a big consignment of Apache helicopters, 250 Abrams tanks, and Patriot ADMS. Of special interest is the contract between Poland and South Korea to supply tanks and howitzers, with a total value exceeding $14 bn [6].

It is also expected that by the end of 2024 the Polish army personnel strength may reach 220 thousand, and Warsaws intention is to eventually enhance its armed forces to 300 thousand to create «the most powerful ground army in Europe». The General Staff of Poland is also planning to organize two new divisions to be deployed in the eastern part of the country, i.e. in the immediate vicinity to the border of the Republic of Belarus.

Meanwhile, the Polish governments arguments about «protection against threats from Belarus and Russia» are disproved by the offensive nature of the weaponry being acquired and also by the fact that the Polish armys large-scale modernization program was launched back in 2012, that is, long before the «Crimea events»; which means it was designed even before that time. Furthermore, claims of any «threats» to Poland from Belarus sound ridiculous, not only because of significant difference in military capability but also because it was Warsaw that has impudently interfered with domestic policy of Belarus over the past decades, and not the other way round. A strong anti-Belarusian and anti-Russian consensus has developed among the Polish ruling classes, and the partial change of power, with the right-wing conservative nationalist party Law and Justice (PiS) marginalized and the Donald Tusk coalition government voted in, had no significant effect either on Warsaws policy vis-a-vis eastern neighbors not on its aggressive military planning.

Military and political analysis of the regional situation would be incomplete without mentioning the 10 thousand NATO (US) soldiers stationed on the Polish territory. Although Washington has repeatedly denied Warsaw's requests to increase the US military presence and deploy US nuclear weapons in Poland, one should bear in mind that decisions of this kind can be taken and implemented in a relatively short time. According to a recent statement by Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Army Karol Dymanowski, at least «300 thousand NATO soldiers are ready to be relocated to Poland in case of military threat» (in fact, whenever needed and for the purpose of unleashing a war). The frequent NATO military exercises conducted in Poland and the Baltic states, involve offensive combat training with Alliance troops rotationally studying the potential theater of operations.

The Belarusian Response: Reading Security Doctrinal Documents

The military and political leadership of Belarus takes into consideration all of the above described factors and regards the actions of the collective West as preparation for an intervention. According to Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin, the region is witnessing «pre-considered set of measures being implemented by Western Europe, led by the United States, to prepare for military action». For his part, when speaking to a meeting of leadership of national security bodies President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko urged the nation to get prepared for a third world war «both mentally and strategically», pointing out that concerns about this course of events are not unfounded. «We dont need war, and we must be prepared for it both mentally and strategically. We need to acknowledge how serious the situation is. Lets drop all illusions about the possibility of a diplomatic settlement of the global conflict. International law is also unable to relieve tensions», the head of state said [7].

In this respect Minsk, on the one hand, takes effective steps to retrofit the Belarusian army with due account of modern war experience, and on the other, being unable to join an exhaustive arms race, takes preventive deterrence decisions. As stated in the updated Military Doctrine, the Republic of Belarus, as before, is characterized as a «peace-loving state», the deployment of the Russian Federations nuclear weapons on its territory being considered as «an important component of preventive deterrence of potential adversaries from unleashing an armed aggression». At the same time, Minsk deems it legitimate to use military force in times of peace to deter other states from aggression against Belarus and prevent domestic destabilization through crisis response; it also states its determination to protect its national interests and the common interests of member countries of military-political associations of which Belarus is part, using all the means at the disposal of the state [8].

The updated National Security Concept also recognizes the realities of todays world, the altered nature of risks, challenges and threats. The document talks extensively about the strategic alliance with Russia, provides for a stronger and comprehensive partnership with China as well as cooperation with other friendly countries within the framework of integration associations. The following main threats are identified: economic sanctions, attacks on independence and violation of territorial integrity, outside interference in domestic affairs, manifestations of extremism, terrorism, activity of foreign intelligence agencies, destruction of the international security architecture, preparations for the use of military force against Belarus, and escalating confrontation between the society and the state [9].

The years 2021-2024 thus saw a substantial transformation of the way Belarus perceives itself within the system of international relations, given the alarming circumstances of today. In fact, it underwent involuntary transition from a nuclear-free country observing neutrality to a country with tactical nuclear weapons deployed on its territory, prepared to apply all its resources and capabilities to defend itself and its allies. While adhering to the principles of peaceful foreign policy, Minsk is clear-eyed about the current military and political situation, which, unfortunately, tends to further deteriorate. The defense and security strategy adopted by the Republic of Belarus is fully reflective of the urgency of the historical situation, adequately responding to the threats and challenges from the Western camp whose members are frantically clinging to global dominance which is already slipping out of their hands. The collective Wests aggressive actions against Belarus not only failed to disrupt its constitutional order and trigger a violent takeover of state power in the Ukrainian style, but, on the contrary, strengthened the government and the patriotic public institutions, encouraging Russia and Belarus to resolve their minor differences and achieve an integrative breakthrough in their allied relations.

1. Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives.

2. Russias Place on Brzeziskis  Chessboard. Forbes Kazakhstan. 30.05.2014. https://forbes.kz/news/newsid_59810

3. Lavrov: The West aims to encircle Russia with a «sanitary cordon», turning it into pariah state. TASS. 23.02.2023. https://tass.ru/politika/17054635

4. Alexander Lukashenko: «Once again we were offered a «lantsug» from Vilnius to Kiev. That is the sanitary cordon that we destroyed in the mid-1990s». CTV, 16.08.2020. https://ctv.by/novosti-minska-i-minskoy-oblasti/aleksandr-lukashenko-nam-predlozhili-lancug-ot-vilnyusa-do-kieva

5. Belarusian Security Council reports six «color revolution» attempts. RIA Novosti, 05.08.2020. https://ria.ru/20200804/1575367000.html

6. South Korea to supply a record-breaking worth of arms to Poland, media report. RIA Novosti, 28.07.2022. https://ria.ru/20220728/oruzhie-1805467257.html

7. Lukashenko calls on Belarusians to get mentally ready for war. RBC, 20.02.2024. https://www.rbc.ru/politics/20/02/2024/65d470ca9a79473564424c3a

8. Military Doctrine of the Republic of Belarus https://pravo.by/document/?guid=12551&p0=P924v0006

9. Updated National Security Concept of Belarus published. Sputnik Belarus. 29.04.2024. https://sputnik.by/20240426/opublikovana-obnovlennaya-kontseptsiya-natsbezopasnosti-belarusi--1085751601.html