Belarusian pundit views row in Russia-led security bloc

Belorusskiy Partizan, Belarus
Dec 4 2018
Belarusian pundit views row in Russia-led security bloc

[Armenian News note: the below is translated from Russian]

Commenting on the cancellation of the 6 December summit of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Belarusian military expert Alyaksandr Alesin has told the Belorusskiy Partizan website that "there are serious contradictions and not a single agreement is ready to be signed" but predicted that there would be no split in the bloc.

"Everything depends on Russia. So far, the main opponents of [Armenian Prime Minister Nikol] Pashinyan are [Kazakh President Nursultan] Nazarbayev and [Belarusian President Alyaksandr] Lukashenka. Nazarbayev supports Minsk's stance that the new secretary-general from Armenia will not be able even to acquaint himself with the state of affairs in the CSTO in one year. Russia, as far as I understand, has not publicly expressed its position and has distanced itself from this, letting allies to fight among themselves. But if Russia sees that pro-Russian forces are losing their positions in Armenia and pro-Western opposition could get more points in elections, Russia will start acting: it will gently talk Nazarbayev and Lukashenka into giving the post of secretary-general to Armenia. At the moment, the CSTO has a strong deputy head from Russia. With this strong deputy head the absence of the secretary-general will not harm the organisation. And there will be no split in the CSTO," Alesin said.

"Russia is trying to bribe Pashinyan. We know that the preparation of an agreement to sell Armenia Su-30 multipurpose fighter-bombers has been intensified," he said.

"It seems that for Armenia the best scenario would be getting Su-25, one of which had crashed. Additional Su-25 would be more useful for Armenia, taking into account the Karabakh conflcit. But, it seems, Russia has no choice. One can say that Armenia is blackmailing Russia. Pashinyan can put forward certain conditions. He could demand more to continue pro-Russian policy," Alesin said.

"Lukashenka, being an experienced player, might use the situation to his advantage and ask Russia for preferences," Alesin predicted.

"Lukashenka perhaps counting on getting Russian weapons at cheap internal Russian prices. He has long been asking for Su-30, and it was even announced that a preliminary agreement had been reached. But a single aircraft costs 55m-60m dollars, and 12 aircraft total the entire Belarusian annual budget. At the same time, I think Armenia will not pay this much," the expert said.

Only Nazarbayev does not want any money, but wants the CSTO as a counterbalance to China's growing influence. He is balancing between Russia and China," Alesin said.