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15 September 2020, 15:15

Defense Ministry: Time to rethink international military cooperation

MINSK, 15 September (BelTA) – International military cooperation needs rethinking, in particular, matters and mechanisms of arms control. Head of the International Military Cooperation Department, Aide to the Defense Minister for International Military Cooperation Oleg Voinov made the statement in his article published by the Belarusian Defense Ministry website, BelTA has learned.

Oleg Voinov noted that over the course of nearly three decades of pursuing an independent foreign policy Belarus has earned a reputation as an impeccable, reliable, and predictable partner. The international community openly welcomed and encouraged Belarus' every action to reduce the huge military potential the country had inherited from the Soviet Union. The international community also welcomed Belarus' policy of openness and transparency regarding the Belarusian army.

It is only natural that Belarus expected other countries to reciprocate. “However, one can honestly say now that many hopes and aspirations we had with regard to the European security space and actions of other countries to form the space were doomed not to come true,” the official noted.

In his words, one can talk so much about one's adherence to the idea of disarmament, non-proliferation, good neighborhood, and transparency in military affairs but unfortunately facts testify to a different attitude to Belarus and its honesty in mutual relations. For instance, NATO expanded to include former Warsaw Pact countries before the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) came to force. As a result, NATO member states exceeded the maximum armament figures specified by the treaty right away.

The unwillingness of a number of European countries, including new NATO members, to accede to the CFE Treaty, is a substantial drawback because it creates white spots or grey security zones on the European continent, which are not bound by restrictions on conventional forces. While Russia suspended participation in the CFE Treaty in response to this situation, Belarus continues faultlessly honoring its commitments. It is worth noting that Lithuania and Latvia have failed to accede to the CFE Treaty.

The USA-led multinational military exercise Defender Europe 2020 was scheduled for April-May 2020. Oleg Voinov described the exercise as a vivid example of the intention of NATO member states to reach new combat training levels. Up to 37,000 people were supposed to take part in the exercise while the exercise itself was supposed to take place in three countries Belarus borders on – Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland – in addition to other areas. Only the coronavirus pandemic reduced the scale of the exercise. However, one assumes that such an exercise will be held near Belarusian borders as soon as the epidemic situation in Europe allows it.

Oleg Voinov wondered why such a massive military exercise needs to take place near NATO's eastern borders, near borders of the Republic of Belarus. “What threat is here? We are a sovereign and independent country that has no territorial claims and pursues a peaceful foreign policy. Our Military Doctrine is purely defensive. It is a universally recognized fact,” he noted.

In his words, all these factors require rethinking arms control procedures and the entire international military cooperation system as a whole.

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