US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Michael Carpenter’s visit to Minsk is, undoubtedly, a major political event for Belarus and the region
At his press conference, the high-level American guest emphasised Washington’s rationale for intensifying Belarus-US bilateral dialogue on European security. This reason for the visit was put ahead of the more evident issue of the Ukraine crisis, although it was the latter that created the pretext for a revaluation of Belarus-West relations.
The President of Belarus outlined a wide scope of issues that he was eager to discuss, including aspects of the Ukraine crisis and its consequences for Belarus, and delicate aspects of Russia-West mutual relations influencing the Central and Eastern European regions.
The Belarusian leader honestly expressed his scepticism over NATO’s activity in the region but underlined reluctance to exaggerate or ‘demonise’ this process. Mr. Lukashenko stated that the United States ‘wants a peaceful and independent Belarus’, which is exactly what the Belarusian people themselves desire.
Besides the regional security context, an important bilateral dimension exists regarding recent Belarus-US talks. The Belarusian leader has noted that the USA is an influential country in the world that everyone wants to partner with, and that Belarus is no exception.
Minsk and Washington have travelled a long way to today’s mutually beneficial and respectful dialogue across a number of crucial issues. Since 2014, diplomats from our two countries have done a tremendous job of restoring our relations, via negotiations, and such steps as bringing US Air Forces to participate in the May 9th military parade in Minsk, marking 70th anniversary of the Great Victory.
Undoubtedly, the March 29th meeting between the Belarusian President and the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence is a milestone, marking a new chapter in Belarus-US relations.
Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies