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Belarus plane action eases Russian military restraints

EXPERT COMMENT

Diverting a Ryanair aircraft shows Lukashenka cares little for his country’s standing with the West – but closer ties to Moscow means more military cooperation.

The recent action against a civilian flight between two EU capitals has removed any remaining doubt Belarus is content to continue down the path of becoming a rogue state. There could be no clearer statement that President Lukashenka has turned his back on the West and abandoned any restraint or concern for international censure.

Since the rigged presidential election in August 2020, Lukashenka has placed all his bets on Moscow and Russia has been quick to take advantage of the military opportunities this offered. Russian troops have held demonstrative exercises showing how speedily they can be inserted by air directly from Russia onto Belarus's borders with Poland and Lithuania – all with full cooperation from Minsk.

Closer integration between the two armed forces has seen the establishment of joint military training centres and a rolling series of exercises and, with the massive Zapad-2021 military exercise now on the horizon this coming September – the first for four years – many of the restraints Russia might have felt in what it could do with this exercise have been lifted.

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Original article link: https://www.chathamhouse.org/2021/05/belarus-plane-action-eases-russian-military-restraints

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