‘We should be able to protect the sovereignty of Belarus without ever becoming entangled in confrontations’
The country will pursue a wise and restrained policy, emphasises Alexander Lukashenko, speaking to top-ranking officers in the Belarusian Army
The President announced, “We should be able to protect the independence and sovereignty of our country without becoming entangled in mindless confrontations. We’ll pursue a wise and restrained policy: we don’t need yours but we will not give away ours. This is the core of our policy. If we have to die for this, we will. Some used to say that I whip up tension; others, five or seven years ago, complained that we were wasting money on modernising our weaponry and improving our army. Today, particularly in view of Ukrainian events, we all now understand that we must feed our own soldiers and maintain a sufficient army, to secure our interests.”
Mr. Lukashenko commented on the falling efficiency of the international security system, saying, “Organisations like the UN and OSCE are obviously influenced by certain countries. Frankly, they cannot discharge their international security functions, being unable to effectively maintain world security, or deal with global problems and present-day tasks.” The President added that, due to its geographical position and openness, Belarus is entirely subject to global geopolitical processes.
“Unfortunately, the situation in the world and around Belarus is unstable. Geopolitical contradictions between Russia and NATO member states are on the rise and military conflict in the southeast of neighbouring Ukraine continues. Falling global prices for oil have painfully affected our closest allies,” stated the President. “The situation remains tense in such crisis regions of the world as the Middle East, and Northern and Central Africa. Operations across the ‘Islamic State’, and events in France and a number of other European countries have led to a surge in international terrorism. Separatist sentiments are on the rise in at least 16 regions of Europe and the ex-USSR.”
According to the Head of State, the USA and its Western European allies are persistent in their efforts to secure leadership in military, political, and economic spheres. Vigorous work on the transatlantic partnership agreement continues simultaneously with the progressive reinforcement of NATO’s military component. Mr. Lukashenko stated that, despite these complicated times, all across the globe, economically and politically, Belarus’ domestic political situation remains stable. He commented, “Our people value this. Notions like security and the Government’s care for people are more highly valued by society than ever. In time, the accomplishments of the current Government will be appreciated by Belarusians.” However, he also warned against complacency, advising, “Nobody should think that everything is okay: that we are great peacemakers and mediators and that we’ll be rewarded for this role, or that we’ll continue to enjoy peace and tranquillity. Don’t fool yourselves. I cannot stress this enough: nobody can guarantee that we will enjoy a life of peace. We’ll do all we can to maintain peace but we should have a combat-effective army.”
Speaking to the Armed Forces’ command, the President assured those present that he would be in the vanguard if he ever needs to defend his homeland. “You should know that I will never lead us into a reckless or unnecessary undertaking. However, if we have to defend our land and stand shoulder to shoulder, rest assured that you will see me in the vanguard,” he promised. As President and Commander-in-Chief, he is responsible for the state of the Belarusian Army, in line with the Constitution. “This is a most important task of mine. I cannot promise everything under the sun, or anything extraordinary. However, if we have even the smallest opportunity to provide extra support to the army, we’ll do so,” the President announced.
As Mr. Lukashenko asserted, the Belarusian Army is among the most battle-efficient in Eastern Europe and Asia. However, it’s unwise to rest on our laurels, as last year’s inspection of the Armed Forces demonstrated. The branch still has many problems, which have led to corresponding decisions and removal of areas of failure. The Defence Ministry has prepared its own national Defence Plan, with actions of state significance realised at top level. In addition, much has been done to improve military accommodation and the state of weaponry and military machine maintenance.
“Progress is evident,” Mr. Lukashenko admitted, adding that Belarus is open to constructive dialogue with NATO, on the basis of parity and transparency. “We share common concerns and joint work aims to take care of these matters, fully meeting Belarus’ interests,” he noted. Although the Head of State views co-operation within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation as a guarantee of the country’s security and stability on the Eurasian continent, he emphasises that Belarus won’t forfeit co-operation with other countries and military political organisations.
“The Defence Minister and the Chief of General Staff have announced the Armed Forces’ development priorities, with the main objective being to improve and gradually enhance our military potential. The development of the army will be facilitated through the retirement of excess weaponry and military hardware while allocating additional financing with which to modernise equipment and optimise personnel numbers, to ensure our combat strength. Most of this work, especially optimisation efforts, has been fulfilled and is now being refined. On the whole, I have supported the Defence Minister’s proposals,” Mr. Lukashenko explained.
Addressing the command personnel of the Armed Forces, the President pointed out their responsibility in helping improve military security. “No country is absolutely safe from external or internal threats and these begin with destabilisation. Many armed conflicts have similar development scenarios. Our eastern and western partners are revising their approaches to the use of the army in times of peace and war,” he said.
During his visit to the Defence Ministry, Mr. Lukashenko was presented with a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Packed in a special case, the gun was handed to him by the Defence Minister, Andrey Ravkov, who noted that, for several decades, this reliable, time-tested rifle has served the armies of countries worldwide. The President accepted with pleasure.
Mr. Lukashenko plans to inspect officers’ physical and battle preparedness, being keen to improve levels of training. He underlined, “Every officer should be physically fit. The commander’s personal example is of utmost importance in this matter.”
By Vladimir Khromov