Tuesday, February 14, 2017

M.N.: Russia, Trump, many "wrongs", and many "rights", and how to balance and to fix them - Russia and her place in the world.

M.N.: There are many "wrongs" that have to be addressed, corrected, and resolved by the efficient negotiations and by the mutual consent, they cannot be simply overlooked, accepted, and conceded, it will just cover up the problems temporarily, and they will reignite again. 

At the heart of these issues are the continuing competition, rivalry, and hostility between Russia and the West, which have no valid and rational underlying geopolitical causes and reasons, but are to the great degree emotional and traditionally historical. This main conflict has to be resolved first, and it is ripe for the comprehensive, in-depth, and the long-term historical resolution, with the other, including the various local conflicts, to follow. 

The Declaration of Principles of Russia - West relations might be helpful in codifying the new order, with the common institutions (the political, judicial, economic, cultural, and others; the existing and the future ones) serving as the structural foundation and the support systems. It would be blessedly beneficial for the direct participants and for the rest of the world. 

Speaking of Russia in particular, it appears to be the most natural, state-and-life saving course of development for her politically and economically, preserving, defining and enhancing her proper place within the world order and the western culture, the alternative being the inevitable, slow or not so slow decline and the dissolution. Instead of the negative and destructive force, the role which she presently plays in opposing the western world, in her futile hope, attempt, and plan of adjusting this world to herself and exploiting it, in her quest for the individuation and retaining of her imperialist ambitions, Russia could play the positive role jointly with the others as one of the integrators and organizers of the new world order while benefiting from this herself internally. 

The UN (the FDR's favorite brainchild and hope for the world) was envisioned as the main prototype political institution to deal with the wars, peace, conflicts, and their resolutions, but it degenerated somewhat, and veered away from its originally charted course, due to many and various factors. The new organs should include the main parties: the US, the EU, the UK, Russia, Israel, and the "significant others" as the parts and the carriers of the European-Western-Judeo-Christian Civilization and their immediate associates. The G-7, which never really became the G-8, and the G-20 are limited by their informal character with the largely consultative functions. All the mentioned above existing structures should be flexibly incorporated into the new system of what effectively could become the World's consultative government, continuing the lines of development of the UN and the EU, and adding to them the overarching and efficient mechanisms for the maintaining of the international stability and the global security. 

I do not see, anticipating the criticism, anything racist or exclusionary in this envisioned arrangement. It will simply affirm the existing actual state of affairs, coordinate the efforts in the fight against the real ills and the enemies of the Mankind, such as drugs and the international organized crime, will spur the economic growth and development, and will be the most effective instrument in containing and resolving the various regional and local conflicts and disorders with the help of the international police forces and the allied and/or unified military, including the special operations forces, providing the impetus for the building of the adequate civil, political, judicial and other structures and institutions in the underdeveloped parts of the world. 

The similar views were expressed in some of the previous posts. 

The perspective plans for the direct resolutions of the regional conflicts mentioned in this opinion piece below will be addressed later. 

To be continued. 


Why Trump Is Right on Russia - by Anatol Lieven

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Repairing relations with Russia can begin in Ukraine. The parameters for such a compromise were laid out in the Minsk agreement of 2015, which committed Russia to disarm separatists in eastern Ukraine and Ukraine to draw up a new federal constitution granting enhanced autonomy to the Donbas, the eastern Ukrainian region that has declared independence. The United States should work with Russia on a compromise for the Donbas, which should be demilitarized and secured by a United Nations peacekeeping force. Meanwhile, the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula should be accepted (since short of a world war there is no way Russia will give it up). Though the annexation shouldn’t be recognized legally, American sanctions on Russia should be lifted.
American and NATO officials like to claim that such a compromise would encourage Russian aggression elsewhere. This view is based on self-deception on the part of Western elites who are interested in maintaining confrontation with Russia as a distraction from more important, painful problems at home, like migration, industrial decline and anger over globalization.
A child with a map can look at where the strategic frontier between the West and Russia was in 1988 and where it is today, and work out which side has advanced in which direction. So it is necessary to recognize that over the past generation, Russia’s actions — though sometimes wrong and even criminal — have been overwhelmingly reactive to what the West has done. Russia’s intervention in Ukraine is about Ukraine, a country of supreme historical, ethnic, cultural, strategic and economic importance to Russia. It implies nothing for the rest of Eastern Europe.
If, as many of the hawks in Brussels and Washington claim, Russia wanted to undermine and then invade Latvia, it would have done so after 2008, when the Latvian economy was in collapse and it would have been easy to create a crisis there. Instead, Moscow did nothing — the Russian government is well aware that any such move would bring Western Europe and the United States back together in hostility toward Russia.
If Russia does invade Latvia or one of the other Baltic States, of course, the United States and its allies would have to fight — and fight hard — to defend them. These countries are members of NATO and the European Union. To surrender them to Russian aggression would make the West look both morally bankrupt and geopolitical impotent. But it is hard to imagine any realistic situation in which this need will arise.
Eastern Europe is not the only arena where the American agenda has proved inept. In Syria, the United States and Western Europe have bungled the war. Here, too, Mr. Trump’s plans to cooperate with Russia would be a welcome change. Because of Russian, Iranian and now Turkish support, Mr. Assad’s Syrian state is not going to fall. If it is to be transformed in the future, negotiation with Russia and Iran will be necessary.
Iran is an essential ally against the jihadists in Iraq and Syria. And that means that the White House will soon discover the dangerous inconsistencies in its policies. Both Mr. Trump and his recently resigned national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, have spoken of prioritizing the fight against the Islamic State. But by simultaneously expressing desire for a new confrontation with Iran, they have demonstrated that they do not actually understand the word “priority.”
Furthermore, barring an open Iranian violation of the nuclear agreement, no imaginable American concession to Russia would persuade Moscow to agree to new international sanctions against Iran. One reason is that Russia sees good relations with Iran as permanently in its interest, whereas the policy makers in Moscow know that American concessions may be withdrawn by the next administration.
China may be the other major sticking point. While he has moderated his stand somewhat in recent weeks, Mr. Trump has suggested he is prepared for a confrontation with China. But Russia will not play along. With a 2,600-mile-long border with China and a hopelessly outnumbered army, there is no way that Russia can be persuaded to adopt an outright hostile stance toward its neighbor. The furthest that Russia might go as a result of a better relationship with the United States would be to limit sales of its most sophisticated weapons to China, and perhaps to help seek a United Nations-brokered international compromise over the islands disputed by China and its neighbors.
Since the end of the Cold War, Russia has not opposed the United States out of blind anti-Americanism. In the former Soviet countries, Russia has defended what the Russian establishment sees — rightly or wrongly — as vital Russian national interests.
Elsewhere in the world, Russia has clashed with the United States for reasons that have often been shared by many Americans, and have often later been proved correct: opposition to the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s regime in Libya being the most notable examples. While Russia wants good relations with the United States, it will not lend blanket support to American global primacy. If that is what the Trump administration is hoping for, it will be sorely disappointed, and the latest attempt at reconciliation with Russia will fail.
Continue reading the main story
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· · ·

NYT > Opinion: Op-Ed Contributor: Why Trump Is Right on Russia 

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Better relations between the United States and Moscow are necessary but not inevitable.

 NYT > Opinion

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Russia - Belarus conflict: Russia starts passport checks for air travelers from Belarus | Belarus strongman slams Russia in border spat | Belarusian leader lashes out at Russia The Seattle Times-Feb 3, 2017 | Lukashenka Accuses Russia Of 'Grabbing Belarus By The Throat' - RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty-Feb 3, 2017 | Belarus reportedly mulls leaving Eurasian Economic Union as ... bne IntelliNews-Feb 2, 2017 | In Russia's Careful Expansion Game, Belarus Is Moscow's Next Target | Лукашенко Путину "Тебя этот Трамп посадит в 20ый вагон"

Russia - Belarus conflict - 2.3.17 - Reviewed on 2.5.17

Лукашенко:"Володь не порти вечер" Путин уже не управляет Россией? - YouTube
Лукашенко Путину "Тебя этот Трамп посадит в 20ый вагон" - YouTube
лукашенко - YouTube
russia belarus - Google Search
News - russia belarus - Google Search
russia belarus relations - Google Search
Lukashenka Accuses Russia Of ‘Grabbing Belarus By The Throat’
Belarus: Russia May Be Restoring Border Zones
Belarus strongman slams Russia in border spat
Belarus and Armenia Re-Evaluate Relations with Russia | Stratfor
In Russia's Careful Expansion Game, Belarus Is Moscow's Next Target
Lukashenka - Google Search
News - Lukashenka - Google Search
The Official Internet Portal of the President of the Republic of Belarus
lukashenka press conference transcript - Google Search
lukashenka press conference transcript 2.3.17 - Google Search


bne IntelliNews - Belarus reportedly mulls leaving Eurasian Economic Union as relations with Russia worsen

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Officials in Moscow on February 2 moved to scotch reports that Minsk is planning to pull out of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and even the union state of Russia and Belarus after a Russian online news service controversially claimed that a broad divorce was in the works.
"We hope that [the collapse of the EEU] is not real", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Gazeta.ru in response to the report by Regnum news agency that was picked up by various other media outlets. However, Belarusian envoy to Russia Igor Petrishenko stressed that his country has been and will remain an active participant of the union state and both integration organisations.
Moscow would not make "loud statements" about Belarusian preparations for leaving the groupings of former Soviet republics, Regnum quoted an unidentified source in the Russian capital as saying. Regardless of the leadership's decisions, Belarusians will always be considered by Russia as a fraternal people, the source added.
However, Regnum's reputation brought the report quickly into question. Set up as a private sector news agency in 2002, it is known for infusing its coverage with  chauvinistic propaganda towards other ex-Soviet nations. In December, three pro-Russian bloggers were detained in Belarus for inciting ethnic hatred over their articles, including Regnum contributors. The Russian Foreign Ministry also criticised the anti-Belarusian slant of earlier reports.
Nonetheless, presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko are soon expected to discuss deteriorating bilateral relations in person at what will clearly be a tense meeting. Their meeting is provisionally set for the first half of February, Ekho Moskvy radio reported. After Lukashenko did not attend a meeting of EEU leaders in December, Belarus' participation in this and the other joint organisations is likely to feature high in the agenda of the talks.
Belarus was a founding member of the EEU, which also has Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan as members, and came into effect on January 1, 2015. The republic joined the Collective Security Treaty Organisation in 1993, a year after it was founded by Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The agreement on the union state of Russia and Belarus came into effect in 2000.
Mired in debt and heavily dependent on Russia's good graces for its economic health, Belarus has in recent months been moving to improve relations with the EU. It has been encouraged by the removal of most sanctions against it in early 2016 after Lukashenko released his political opponents from jail the previous summer. However, Minsk's efforts to court the West do not sit well with Moscow.
At the forefront of the current tensions is Russia's insistence that Belarus pays the equivalent of $550mn for past supplies of natural gas. "We continue talks; no progress there, arguments remain unchanged," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said on January 28. "Settlement options are changing, but as yet we have not found mutually acceptable ones."
Minsk's decision to grant five-day visa-free travel to 80 countries starting on February 12 has also caused irritation in Moscow, which is concerned about third-country citizens using the amended rules to enter Russian territory via the largely uncontrolled border.
While Moscow said the decision is Minsk's internal affair, new Russian border controls are going into effect this month. The head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Aleksandr Bortnikov issued directives to set up border zones in the Russian regions of Smolensk, Bryansk and Pskov, which all adjoin Belarus, TASS reported.
The measure could be caused by Russia's intention to better control Ukrainian citizens coming to the country via Belarus, Kommersant daily commented, although the introduction by Belarus of visa-free entry is thought to be the direct cause of the tightened controls.

Russia starts passport checks for air travelers from Belarus

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Russian border guards have started checking the passports of visitors arriving at airports on flights from Belarus in what is described as a temporary measure.

Belarus’ GDP falls by 2.6 percent in 2016 

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Belarus’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell by 2.6 percent in 2016 to total 94.3 billion new (post-redenomination) rubels, reported the National Statistical Committee (Belstat).

Minsk describes Lithuanian foreign minister as overwhelmed with emotions 

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Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius is being overwhelmed with emotions over Belarus, Dzmitry Mironchyk, spokesperson for the Belarusian foreign ministry, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Reaction Of Belarusian MFA To Border Zone With Russian Federation:...

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The unexpected decision of the Russian side to establish a border zone at the Belarusian-Russian border has become a sensation in both Belarusian and Russian media. The Belarusian Ministry for Foreign Affairs has commented upon Russia's actions.

Belarus says suspects Russia trying to restore post-Soviet border

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MINSK/MOSCOW: Belarus said on Thursday it suspected Russia was trying to restore a formal border zone between the two countries, a move it said flouted agreements on freedom of movement and trade and raised questions about Moscow's real intent. Belarus spoke out after the publication of three decrees signed by Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia's Federal Security Service , that ordered border zones to be set up in three Russian regions adjacent to Belarus.

Lukashenka Even Told About His Underpants

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The dictator told reporters, what he was wearing at the press conference today and what clothes he tries to wear. "All the time I wear Marko shoes, I can show you.
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Belarusian leader lashes out at Russia - The Seattle Times

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The Seattle Times

Belarusian leader lashes out at Russia
The Seattle Times
Belarus's President Alexander Lukashenko speaks during a briefing in Minsk, Belarus, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. In a televised broadcast on Friday, Lukashenko asked the country's interior minister to press... (Maxim Guchek/BelTA Pool Photo via AP) More ...
Belarus's Lukashenko slams Russia over border controlsFinancial Times
Belarus: Russia May Be Restoring Border ZonesVoice of America
Belarus strongman slams Russia in border spatYahoo News
Armenian Weekly -RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
all 175 news articles »

Lukashenka: Belarus will not quit integration blocs with Russia

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Media reports claiming that Belarus intends to quit integration blocs with Russia are not true, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said at a lengthy news conference in Minsk on February 3.

Belarus Leader Demands Blogger's Extradition To Azerbaijan

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Belarus -- Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka meets with members of the public and local and foreign journalists in Minsk, February 3, 2017 Ignoring warnings from Russia and Armenia, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday ordered law-enforcement authorities in Belarus to speed up the extradition to Azerbaijan of a Russian-Israeli blogger arrested by them because of his trips to Nagorno-Karabakh. Lukashenko defended the December 14 arrest and said the blogger, Alexander Lapshin, should have been handed over to Baku "long ago."

Russia, Belarus replace the US as targets for Chinese hackers - SC Magazine

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SC Magazine

Russia, Belarus replace the US as targets for Chinese hackers
SC Magazine
Evidence is popping up indicating the China-U.S Cyber Agreement may be pushing Chinese hackers to shift to targets in Russia and Belarus. Proofpoint researchers in a blog pointed to several clues that infer Chinese cyber gangs have shifted away from ...

TASS: World - Belarus confirms plans to buy Russia's Su-30SM - TASS

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Sputnik International

TASS: World - Belarus confirms plans to buy Russia's Su-30SM
Earlier, Commander of the Belarussian Air Force and Air Defense Major General Oleg Dvigalev said to 2020 the country plans buying at least a squadron of ...
Secure Sky: Belarus to Purchase Russian Sukhoi Su-30SM Jet ...Sputnik International

all 2 news articles »

Lukashenka accuses Russia of 'Grabbing Belarus by the throat' - SOFREP (press release) (subscription)

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SOFREP (press release) (subscription)

Lukashenka accuses Russia of 'Grabbing Belarus by the throat'
SOFREP (press release) (subscription)
MINSK – Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has lashed out at Russia, accusing his powerful neighbor of violating treaties and using its role as an energy supplier to “grab us by the throat.” Speaking to journalists in Minsk on February 3, ...
Belarus hopes to attract 700 mln USD loan from China for business developmentShanghai Daily (subscription)
Lukashenko Blames Russia for Decline in Bilateral RelationsSputnik International
Belarusian President says no desire to join NATOGlobal Times
Panorama.am -TVR
all 15 news articles »
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Trump's Amateurish White House Thinks Poland Invaded Belarus - PoliticusUSA

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Trump's Amateurish White House Thinks Poland Invaded Belarus
Now it turns out, as revealed by the Associated Press, that the Trump White House wanted to know about a Polish incursion into Belarus, once called “White Russia,” a landlocked country wedged in between Poland and Russia, with Lithuania and Latvia to ...
Belarus Accuses Russia of Violating Border AgreementFinancial Tribune
Kremlin says is not enforcing border controls with BelarusInvesting.com
Lukashenko Blames Russia for Decline in Bilateral RelationsSputnik International
ecns -PanARMENIAN.Net
all 17 news articles »

Lukashenko considers Belarusian court's decision to extradite blogger ...

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Russia & CIS General Newswire February 3, 2017 Friday 6:30 PM MSK Lukashenko considers Belarusian court's decision to extradite blogger Lapshin to Azerbaijan legal, calls to implement it promptly MINSK. Feb 3 Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has called for implementing the ruling of the court on the extradition of blogger Alexander Lapshin to Azerbaijan as soon as possible because he considers this decision absolutely legal.

Belarus President: Trump Not Stupid, 80% of his Advisers Are Jews - The Jewish Press - JewishPress.com

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Belarus President: Trump Not Stupid, 80% of his Advisers Are Jews
The Jewish Press - JewishPress.com
The President of Belarus said he talked to Trump about how to communicate with the Russian leadership. He also cautioned Sputnik-Belarus not to place too much hope on cooperation with Trump, stressing he is “first and foremost the president of the US.”.
Trump's Amateurish White House Thinks Poland Invaded BelarusPoliticusUSA
Belarus says jailed Israeli blogger likely to be extradited to Azerbaijani24news
Belarus Accuses Russia of Violating Border AgreementFinancial Tribune
Xinhua -Azerbaijan Business Center
all 20 news articles »

Lukashenka - Google Search

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Story image for Lukashenka from RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Lukashenka Accuses Russia Of 'Grabbing Belarus By The Throat'

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty-Feb 3, 2017
MINSK – Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has lashed out at Russia, accusing his powerful neighbor of violating treaties and using ...
Russia Tightens Security on Belarus Border
Transitions Online-Feb 2, 2017

russia belarus relations - Google Search

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Story image for russia belarus relations from bne IntelliNews

Belarus reportedly mulls leaving Eurasian Economic Union as ...

bne IntelliNews-Feb 2, 2017
... leaving Eurasian Economic Union as relations with Russia worsen ... The agreement on the union state of Russia and Belarus came into ...
Lukashenko vows to keep Belarusian-Russian relations friendly
Local Source-Belarus News (BelTA)-Feb 3, 2017
Lukashenko accuses Russia of violating border agreement
International-Russia Beyond the Headlines-Feb 3, 2017

russia belarus - Google Search

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Belarusian leader lashes out at Russia

The Seattle Times-Feb 3, 2017
Belarus's President Alexander Lukashenko speaks during a briefing in Minsk, Belarus, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. In a televised broadcast on Friday, ...
Russia criticized for contempt for Belarus during oil, gas talks
Local Source-Belarus News (BelTA)-Feb 3, 2017
Belarus Says Russia's Decision on Border Zone Not Coordinated ...
Local Source-Sputnik International-Feb 2, 2017
Kremlin says no border regime introduced between Russia and ...
International-Russia Beyond the Headlines-Feb 3, 2017
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Page 4

In Russia's Careful Expansion Game, Belarus Is Moscow's Next Target

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Belarus must be seen as a low-hanging fruit that can be grabbed by Moscow, one without too many implications for Russia. (Photo by Alexander Vilf/Host Photo Agency/Ria Novosti via Getty Images)
While the world is watching in disbelief how boldly Russia establishes and puts into practice its military presence in Syria, Moscow is quietly advancing another initiative with far-reaching consequences—the deployment of an airbase in neighboring Belarus.
The major difference between the two countries in this case is that Russia cannot annex or occupy Syria, but it sees Belarus is a different light. Moreover, Russia in a distant and highly volatile Syria, with numerous actors and interests involved, will inevitably face serious threats and, very likely, material consequences. On the contrary, Belarus must be seen as a low-hanging fruit that can be grabbed by Moscow, one without too many implications for Russia.
Still, the intentions of the Kremlin in Belarus are even less obvious than they are in Syria. Russia’s military build-up in the Middle East is a rather situational and impromptu aiming to re-engage with the concert of nations. Kremlin’s plan for Belarus might be more complex, with more systemic consequences.
Russia plans to establish an airbase in Belarus
In early September Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that he would suggest to President Vladimir Putin to sign an agreement establishing an airbase in Belarus. According to the Russian government, the airbase “agreement provisions will sustainably secure Russia’s military presence in the region and facilitate strengthening its security.” On September 18 Putin approved the start of negotiations with Belarus on the base. The Russians even opened the draft agreement to the public revealing a rather loose arrangement that imposed certain framework on Belarus.
Incredulously, no public reaction from the authorities in Minsk preceded or followed that announcement. Officials in the defense and foreign service ministries declined to comment on this—by all accounts—no small matter. They’ve instead suggested all questions be addressed to the Russians. The United States and European Union have also stayed quiet on the topic, although their officials privately acknowledge the issue demands careful consideration.
The manner in which Kremlin approaches the issue, and absence of public reciprocity from the government in Belarus, defines the initiative to establish the base as a unilateral endeavor by Russia. This decision is being imposed on the politically and economically vulnerable regime that is heavily dependent on Russia’s energy subsidies and its financial support.
The plan puts the country in the line of conflict 
However, the problem is that Belarusians do not want the Russian airbase, do not need it and do not invite Russians to bring in their advanced military capability.
From their point of view, the idea of a Russian airbase has obvious deficiencies. The Constitution of Belarus sets a goal to make the nation’s territory free of nuclear arms, and declares that the country seeks to be a neutral state. Obviously, the establishment of a Russian airbase contradicts the Constitution. In essence, Belarus is being drawn, against the will of its people, into closer military relations with a Russia that has become fully committed to a dangerous geopolitical agenda undermining international security. The presence of a major Russian military installation places Belarus in the line of conflict should tension between Russia and the West escalate further.
Another problem with the foreign airbase is that Belarus is ruled by the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko, whose international legitimacy has not been recognized by the West since the 1996 referendum. A decision whether to allow foreign military presence requires careful consideration by the state and society, which is possible when the state has a system of checks and balances and the society exercises an oversight over the policy formulation and implementation process. Both these conditions are absent in Belarus. Lukashenko, as the head of the executive branch, has amassed absolute power, and the society is cut off from decision-making.
An additional factor is that Belarus does not have any immediate security problems—other than unpredictable Russia itself—that would require the enhancement of its military capabilities. In spite of the authoritarian nature of the regime and continuous flagrant violations of human rights, the country has never been a direct threat to international peace and security. This is in part why the international community failed to accumulate enough political will to seriously confront Lukashenko’s practices. On the contrary, Belarus is perceived as an aide to international security. Most notably, the country voluntarily refused to own a nuclear arsenal, and together with Ukraine and Kazakhstan signed the now infamous Budapest Memorandum of 1994 on security assurances from Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Finally, Russia’s covert operation in Crimea last February demonstrated just how instrumental military bases on foreign soil can be when the Kremlin decides to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign neighboring state and annex foreign territories.
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Russia May Be Restoring Border Zones

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Belarus said Thursday it suspected Russia was trying to restore a formal border zone between the two countries, a move it said flouted agreements on freedom of movement and trade and raised questions about Moscow’s real intent.
Belarus spoke out after the publication of three decrees signed by Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), that ordered border zones to be set up in three Russian regions adjacent to Belarus.
In the years after the 1991 Soviet collapse, border controls existed but were removed as the two countries, both former Soviet republics, grew closer again.
Zones scrapped in 1990s
“The Russian side took a decision to set up border zones on the frontier with Belarus without advance warning, flying in the face of all existing agreements,” Maria Vanshina, a spokeswoman for the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, said Thursday. “Many people get the impression that these actions are designed to restore full control over the Belarusian-Russian border, something that was scrapped more than 20 years ago.”
Russia and Belarus have long been part of a political and economic union that provides for open borders and allows citizens from both nations to work and settle in the other without going through immigration formalities.
But relations have soured since Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko criticized Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014.
Since then, the two have fallen out over gas pricing, with Russia cutting oil deliveries to Belarus, while Russian moves to try to expand its military presence in Belarus have come to nothing.
Lukashenko, who has often played Russia and the West off against each other to extract concessions from each, has responded by becoming friendlier with the West.
Belarus turns to West
Belarus said last month it would allow visa-free entry for the citizens of 80 countries, including the United States and the European Union, for visits of up to five days.
Soon afterward, Russia’s FSB border guards were ordered to mark up border zones in three Russian regions next to Belarus, to erect signs indicating their status, and to fix the exact place and time when people and vehicles could enter the areas.
The Russian Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment Thursday.
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Belarus and Armenia Re-Evaluate Relations with Russia

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(From L) Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian. (SERGEI KARPUKHIN/AFP/Getty Images, JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images, ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)


Recent developments indicate that two of Moscow's most loyal allies in the former Soviet periphery, Belarus and Armenia, may be reassessing their ties with Russia in light of the country's standoff with the West. During a Jan. 29 press conference, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Minsk could pull out of the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union if agreements are not kept, but also emphasized that the country's integration with Russia is deep and strong. Meanwhile, Armenia has faced growing difficulties in its conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, where Russia plays a key role. Both countries are likely to maintain their strategic orientation toward Russia, but Belarus and Armenia will continuously re-evaluate their positions depending on how the broader struggle between Moscow and the West plays out.


The crisis in Ukraine has had far-reaching repercussions. Relations between Russia and the West are at their lowest point since the Cold War. Sanctions related to the crisis, along with a sizable drop in global oil prices, have weakened Russia's economy severely. Moreover, the crisis has brought Ukraine and other former Soviet countries closer to Western institutions. Ukraine is receiving increasing economic and security support from the West; NATO has increased troop rotations and military exercises in the Baltic states; and Moldova and Georgia have joined Ukraine in signing EU association and free trade agreements. Even Azerbaijan, which traditionally has balanced between Russia and the West, is being courted to expand energy ties with the European Union via the Southern Corridor route.
Within Eastern Europe and the Caucasus — the two regions that the European Union's Eastern Partnership program specifically targeted — only two countries remain aligned with Russia: Belarus and Armenia. Both countries have grown closer to Russia following the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis, becoming members of the Eurasian Economic Union that launched at the start of 2015. Both states have also emphasized their strategic alignment with Russia, particularly regarding military and security issues. Yet Belarus and Armenia may increasingly hedge their positions as tension between Russia and the West continues to climb.

Belarus' Calculations

In Belarus, Lukashenko's government has long been at odds with the West. The European Union and United States imposed sanctions on Belarus following the country's controversial elections in 2010, during which security forces cracked down on anti-Lukashenko demonstrations. Belarus was also the first and most vocal country in rebuffing the European Union's Eastern Partnership program; Lukashenko saw the initiative as a way to promote democracy and undermine his political position at home.
Yet since the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich who — like Lukashenko — the West saw as an overly authoritarian, pro-Russian figure, the Belarusian president has adjusted his position regarding the European Union and United States. Lukashenko made Belarus a key mediator in negotiations between Russia and the West over Ukraine. Belarus also has cautiously opened a political dialogue with many Western countries, leading to a notable increase in economic deals between Minsk and several EU countries.
Simultaneously, Moscow's growing financial woes and periodic economic disputes between Belarus and Russia have caused Lukashenko concern. In his Jan. 29 press conference, Lukashenko emphasized that though economic integration between the two countries is strong, trade wars within the Eurasian Economic Union cannot be allowed, and that Minsk does not exclude leaving the bloc if "agreements in it are not kept." Still, Russia's ability and willingness to provide financial assistance to Belarus — Moscow is slated to give Minsk around $1 billion this year — are critical.
In addition, Belarus adopted legislation Jan. 26 that would consider the appearance of any armed foreign fighters on the country's soil a declaration of war, regardless of whether they are official military troops or not. The context for this legislation is clearly the Ukraine conflict, where volunteer fighters and non-official participants have fought on both sides. For example, the Ukrainian security forces have been accompanied by volunteer battalions, including fighters from foreign countries such as Poland or Georgia — a worrying sign for Lukashenko. The new legislation also prompted media speculation that the new law is directed toward Russia, given the presence of "little green men" — the unmarked and unofficial Russian military personnel fighting in Ukraine. However, Lukashenko is not likely concerned about Russia, since Russian troops are already stationed in Belarus and a new Russian airbase is set to open in the country in 2016.
Lukashenko clearly has become concerned about his position, especially as fighting flares up once again in eastern Ukraine. With military buildups growing near Belarus' borders to the east and west, a spillover of violence from either direction cannot be ruled out. More important, the West's continued calls for political reforms have Lukashenko worried that Western countries could increase pressure on his government, just as Russia is becoming increasingly alienated from the West and as presidential elections set for the end of 2015 draw closer. But Belarus is a strategic asset for Russia, especially with Ukraine in limbo and the Baltic states in NATO. Belarus has so far maintained its strategic alignment with Russia, but this year will shape Lukashenko's political position domestically and in the country's careful maneuvering between Moscow and the West.

Armenia's Concerns

Armenia has long been strategically aligned with Russia. A key driver behind Yerevan's orientation toward Moscow is Armenia's conflict with Azerbaijan over the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. After Armenia defeated Azerbaijan in a six-year war over the region, Russia became Armenia's de facto security guarantor. The 5,000 Russian troops stationed in Armenia have served to check Azerbaijan's ambitions to reclaim the territory and also to guard Armenia's borders with the larger Caucasus powers of Turkey and Iran.
However, the Ukraine crisis has affected the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Fighting has increased along the line of contact between Armenia and Azerbaijan; violence spiked in August 2014, and in November 2014 Azerbaijani forces shot down an Armenian helicopter. Azerbaijan has gained more room to maneuver in the conflict because of its sought-after energy resources and Russia's focus on the Ukrainian theater. These factors have caused Armenia to question Russia's commitment as a security guarantor, especially concerning Moscow's lack of response to the helicopter shoot-down. Armenia has not launched any major reprisal attacks, and on Jan. 27 Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian admitted that the helicopter that was shot down had deviated from its course and said that officials were dismissed as a result. This startling and uncharacteristic admission shows that Armenia may be recalculating its position in relation to Russia — something that the West and Turkey could try to capitalize on.
Still, Armenia has been careful not to stray too far from Russia. Despite a Russian soldier's recent killing of an Armenian family in Gyumri, which has generated controversy and demonstrations in Armenia, Yerevan has stood by Moscow. Ohanian said the incident "should not drive a wedge in the Armenian-Russian relations," adding that Russia's military presence in Armenia "is solving a larger regional issue." Russia's military backing is crucial to Armenia, but continuation or escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict — such as Azerbaijani forces' alleged shoot-down of an Armenian unmanned aerial vehicle Jan. 29 — will test Yerevan's resolve. 
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Belarus strongman slams Russia in border spat

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Minsk (AFP) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko slammed Russia on Friday as tensions bubbled between the two close allies in a spat over border controls.
Russia's FSB security service has ordered tougher restrictions along its frontier with Belarus after Minsk last month said it was scrapping visas for short-term visits by citizens of 80 states from February 9.
There have been no border controls between Russia and Belarus since the 1990s, when the two ex-Soviet countries signed an agreement bolstering their political and economic integration.
Strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko lashed out at what he called a "political" move by Moscow to reimpose border restrictions.
"How is this a threat to Russia's national security?" Lukashenko said at a marathon press conference that dragged on over seven hours.
"We have the right to make this decision. We are a sovereign and independent state."
He also struck out at Russia over a convoluted energy dispute, saying he would take Moscow to court for allegedly cutting oil supplies to the country after Minsk hiked transit tariffs.
The Kremlin's press service quickly hit back at Lukashenko, insisting the border measure was needed to keep Russia secure and reminding Minsk that Moscow has given it more than $6 billion in loans.
"The Russian side has and continues to offer major economic, political and other support to Belarus in light of the special allied nature of our relations," the press service said.
Landlocked Belarus has remained one of Russia's closest allies since becoming independent from Moscow when the USSR collapsed and is a member of a Kremlin-lead economic union.
But despite the tight links Lukashenko -- who has ruled with an iron fist since 1994 -- is often keen to portray himself as not dependent on Moscow.
The dispute comes after Belarus -- once dubbed the last dictatorship in Europe by the US -- has seen a thaw in ties with the West.
Lifting visa requirements for visitors from across Europe and the United States for stays of up to five days was seen as a step that could help open up the tightly-controlled country.
Like Russia's other ex-Soviet neighbours, Belarus was alarmed by Moscow's intervention in Ukraine after protesters ousted a pro-Kremlin leader in 2014.
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Trump Tells Poroshenko U.S. Will Work To Restore Peace In Ukraine

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The White House says President Donald Trump told Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko the United States will work to end the deadly conflict near the Russian border in eastern Ukraine.
"We will work with Ukraine, Russia, and all other parties involved to help them restore peace along the border," Trump said in a statement issued on February 4.
The statement added that the two leaders discussed the possibility of meeting in the near future.
A statement by Poroshenko's office said the two leaders "noted the urgent necessity of establishing a complete cease-fire" in the region.
The Ukrainian president thanked Trump for his "strong support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," the statement added.
The call came as an upsurge in fighting has killed at least 35 in a week of escalated fighting between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine has expressed concern that Trump could roll back some sanctions imposed on Russia after its illegal 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and in retaliation for Moscow's military, economic, and political support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Trump has repeatedly expressed hope for improved relations with Moscow. The phone call came a week after Trump spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On February 2, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, expressed "strong condemnation of Russia's actions" in eastern Ukraine and warned that Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia would not be lifted until Crimea was returned to Kyiv.
"Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine," she said.
At least 9,800 people have been killed since the conflict in eastern Ukraine erupted in April 2014.
With reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AFP

лукашенко - YouTube

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Лукашенко:"Володь не порти вечер" Путин уже не управляет Россией? - YouTube

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Published on Feb 3, 2017

Meeting with members of public, Belarusian and foreign journalists | Events

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Meeting with members of public, Belarusian and foreign journalists
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko had a meeting with the members of the public, representatives of the Belarusian and foreign mass media on 3 February. The event was held in an extended format under the common title Big Conversation with the President.
The meeting was attended by about 50 journalists representing the biggest state-owned and corporate Belarusian media, popular websites, and authoritative foreign mass media. Numerous experts, including famous political analysts, economists, representatives of political parties, religious denominations, NGOs were also invited.
The meeting of the head of state with the members of the public and journalists was broadcast live by Belarusian TV channels Belarus 1, Belarus 24, and the First National Channel of the Belarusian Radio.
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Lukashenka Accuses Russia Of ‘Grabbing Belarus By The Throat’

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MINSK – Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has lashed out at Russia, accusing his powerful neighbor of violating treaties and using its role as an energy supplier to "grab us by the throat."
Speaking to journalists in Minsk on February 3, Lukashenka harshly criticized Moscow's recent decision to establish a "security zone" with border controls along the two countries' shared border.
Russia made the move to secure the previously open border after Minsk announced it was granting visa-free entry to Belarus to short-term visitors from some 80 countries as of February 9.
At his press conference, Lukashenka said Russia had "crossed out" existing treaties with Belarus "with the stroke of a pen."
The Belarusian president also accused Russia of trying to bolster its influence over Belarus by pushing to control its energy pipelines and using oil and gas supplies as a lever of power.
"Russia has often grabbed the oil and gas pipeline. It is happening now as well," he said. He added that "after such conflicts they have always told me, 'We went a bit too far.' But why grab the vital thing? Why grab us by the throat?"
Lukashenka said that "independence cannot be compared with oil" and that his country, which has long relied on subsidized Russian energy supplies, will find other energy suppliers if necessary.
However, Lukashenka denied recent speculation that Belarus might quit the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and said his country has no plans to join NATO.
'Unequal' Conditions
In addition, the president said Belarus does not plan to quit the Eurasian Economic Union (EES), of which Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan are members.
He complained, however, that his country has lost $15 billion due to the "unequal" conditions of many agreements within the group that started officially functioning in January 2015.
In the wide-ranging press conference, Lukashenka -- an authoritarian leader who has ruled Belarus since 1994 -- alluded to "forces that want to push Belarus into chaos and conflict."
"We have managed to preserve peace and stability," he said, despite a challenging geopolitical environment.
"We have to be friends with all our neighbors," Lukashenka said. "Neither Ukraine, nor Russia, nor Poland is alien to us. They are our neighbors; they were given to us by God."
Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and its active military, economic, and political support for separatists in eastern Ukraine have alarmed many countries in the region, prompting fears about Moscow's intentions.
Lukashenka also said that he had called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to lower his expectations regarding U.S. President Donald Trump.
He said that he told Putin to remember Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again" and asked him what place he thinks Trump will assign to Russia.
"They will put it in the 20th place because Russia's economy is the 20th in the world," Lukashenka said he told Putin.
The Belarusian president also compared Trump to himself.
"Trump is not that bad as you think," Lukashenka said. "He is inexperienced. I went through similar things as someone not from the elite moving upward... But there are many reasonable people there… The nation is not stupid. They will explain things to him and help him."
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Лукашенко Путину "Тебя этот Трамп посадит в 20ый вагон" - YouTube

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Published on Feb 4, 2017