Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From 4 March to 10 March 2023

Eastern Europe monitoring team : Séverine Ly, Vladimir Krsmanovic, Olivier Husson, Claire Aréthuse, Olga Chekhurska, Valérian Cerino, Sarah Wilpotte, Fiona Bessioud, Elisabeth Nagy

The files we follow: Ukrainian domestic policy ; EU-Ukraine relations and Ukraine/Russia conflict resolution process; Foreign policy of Belarus, Russian army in Belarus and Belarus-Ukraine relationship ; United Transitional Cabinet of Free Belarus and the Belarusian diaspora; Domestic Policy of Belarus and political prisoners ; Safe point in Ukraine ; Political situation in Crimea and the “Donbass republics” in the context of the war in Ukraine; Situation in Transnistria/ Moldova; EU-Balkan relations; Foreign policies of Kosovo, Serbia and Albania; Human rights and the fight against corruption in Eastern Europe; Energy, nuclear and renewable energy issues in Eastern Europe.

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Foreign policy of Belarus, Russian army in Belarus and Belarus-Ukraine relationship – Vladimir Krsmanovic –

On March 7th, in the Palace of Independence in Minsk, the State Awards ceremony was held. At the ceremony, President Alexander Lukashenko shared a statement. It reported that the State Security Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Border Service had succeeded in arresting one of the main perpetrators of the attempted sabotage of the Russian A-50 radar aircraft at the Belarusian airfield of Machulishchy near Minsk on February 26th 2023. As confirmed by Franak Viačorka, the main Political Advisor of the Belarusian opponent Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the target has been destroyed by 2 Belarusian opponents.

However, according to Alexander Lukashenko, the targeted aircraft suffered no significant damage, only a hole in the hull and scratches. Alexander Lukashenko asked that it be sent to Russia to be repaired and that another of the same type be sent back in exchange.

Moreover, the saboteur would be of Ukrainian origin. Born in Crimea, he would be a computer scientist and was recruited by the SBU, the security service of Ukraine, in 2014. Lukashenko stressed that the attack was prepared well in advance by the Ukrainian secret service and the CIA. In response to these accusations, Mykhaïlo Podoliak, the current Adviser to the Ukrainian President, replied that this sabotage was an anti-terrorist act orchestrated by Belarusians.

Moreover, according to Alexander Lukashenko, 20 other accomplices were reportedly arrested on Belarusian territory and the other accomplices fled abroad. The absence of military personnel at the Russian-Belarusian border made it easier to escape to Russia and more difficult to find them on the latter’s vast territory. Therefore, the Belarusian state took the initiative to block the border by mobilising military troops at the border. Finally, in order to resolve the matter completely and imperatively, Alexander Lukashenko declared that he had ordered a “brutal cleansing of the whole country” a few days before his speech.

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