Russia Blames U.S. of Instigating Revolution in Belarus
Russia on Wednesday blamed Washington for trying to provoke a revolution in Belarus. Russia sent its defense minister for talks on military ties, in a signal that Moscow’s support for embattled Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko was toughening.
The Blame Game!
Mass protests happening since an August 9 election damaged by vote-rigging allegations have acted as the biggest threat yet to Lukashenko, and the Kremlin’s support has become crucial for his chances of longing his 26-year rule.
On Monday, the former Soviet state farm boss traveled to Russia for his first talks with President Vladimir Putin since the crisis started, coming away with a $1.5 billion loan to prop up his Soviet-style command economy.
Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s SVR Foreign Intelligence Service, is alleging that Washington was working behind the scenes to overthrow Lukashenko in a coup, some of Moscow’s strongest rhetoric over the crisis yet.
“Essentially we are talking about a poorly disguised attempt to organize another ‘color revolution’ and an anti-constitutional coup, the goals, and objectives of which have nothing to do with the interests of Belarusian citizens,” he was quoted by RIA news agency as saying.
He blamed Washington of funding anti-government bloggers and training activists with the help of NGOs and of backing others consisting of opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya who fled the country for Lithuania in between a police crackdown.
“According to the SVR’s information, the United States is playing a key role in Belarus,” he said.
Russia has long accused the West of revolutions such as Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution and Ukraine’s 2003-04 Orange Revolution, in which Russia said the West supported the protesters.
Is Putin Providing Weapons to Belarus?
On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu flew into Minsk and held talks with Lukashenko, who stated that he had asked Putin to provide Belarus with various types of weapons.
He did not clarify which weapons he had requested from Putin and the Kremlin later refused Putin and Lukashenko had talked about supplying Belarus with new arms, the TASS news agency reported.
Currently, Russia and Belarus are holding joint military drills that run until late September. Lukashenko stated that the two countries should plan more drills of a similar type. Moscow is a close ally that sees Belarus as a cushion against NATO and a vital export corridor for its oil.
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Russia would offer the first $1 billion tranches of its loan to Belarus by the end of the year and provide the remainder next year. The loan that will be denominated in Russian roubles and U.S. dollars, will support Belarus and its state companies to respect their debt obligations and support financial stability, Siluanov said.
Moscow’s support for Belarus belies a peculiar personal relationship between Putin and Lukashenko, who for years has played Russia off against the West in order to generate political gain from the Kremlin. Echoing Naryshkin’s comments, Lukashenko blamed the United States of shaking hands with Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, and Ukraine to target his government.
“The tactics of the organizers were based on the classic American textbook of color revolutions,” he said.