Attempted Coups and Shifting Alliances: Belarus-A Case in Point
Regime Change is a strategy the U.S. government implements as part of its foreign policy instruments. There are numerous documents, films, and first-person testimony concerning the planning and execution of regime change in other countries. Schemes devised by U.S. intelligence agencies coordinating with its allies and local nationals have altered the course of international relations and alliances significantly since World War II. If U.S. business interests, political interests or ‘national security’ are perceived to be threatened, the “means to change” justifies the ends in their view. No country or government was/is off-limits.
A few of the more infamous plots and assassinations include the CIA coup against President Jacobo Árbenz of Guatemala in 1953-1954, the 1961 torture and killing of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s first legally elected Prime Minister-Mr. Patrice Émery Lumumba, 1964 coup to oust Brazilian President João Goulart, the 1973 coup and assassination of Salvador Allende of Chile, the 1980 murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador, the CIA training and equipping death squads to incite civil war resulting in over 100,000 deaths in El Salvador, and the brazen admission by the then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Attempted Coup and Assassination in Belarus in April 2021
Under the Trump administration, efforts to cultivate a better relationship in terms of trade and diplomacy with Belarus made significant progress from 2016-2020. However, the Biden administration immediately fractured the relationship by publically condemning Belarus’s leadership and questioning the legitimacy of their government and their own elections. This past week Belarus presented evidence of a coup and assassination plot created and supported by U.S. and Ukrainian intelligence agencies. The assassination target was the duly elected President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus.
President Lukashenko and President Putin made phone calls to the White House asking about the U.S. involvement in the attempted coup and planned assassination of the President of Belarus. However, Biden and his administration remained silent. Russia moved immediately to defend President Alexander Lukashenko and provide ‘evidence’ of U.S. and Ukrainian involvement. Belarus and Russia report having videos, emails, cables, and first-hand witnesses. The following is a translated excerpt from an open-source document released in Russian:
“The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, (FSB) together with the State Security Committee of the Republic of Belarus, as a result of a special operation, suppressed the illegal activities of Yuri Leonidovich Zyankovich, who has dual citizenship of the United States and the Republic of Belarus, and Alexander Iosifovich Feduta, a citizen of the Republic of Belarus.
They were planning a military coup in Belarus according to a well-developed scenario of ‘Colour Revolutions’ with the involvement of local and Ukrainian nationalists, as well as the physical elimination of President A. Lukashenko. The investigative bodies of Belarus are investigating a criminal case against L. Zyankovich and I. Feduta, under Article 357 (conspiracy or other actions committed with the aim of seizing state power) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus.”
As of April 19, 2021, the U.S. State Department “dismissed claims” of any involvement in the above-mentioned activities and events in Belarus.
U.S. and NATO Pressure Belarus
Belarus has protested U.S. interference and deliberate disruption of its election process since 2014. In 2016, and again in 2020, Belarus strongly objected to accusations by the European Union and the United States concerning government clampdowns on protests and questioning “election win” margins.
U.S. interest in Belarus is centered on its geography and strategic position. Four NATO members border Belarus or are located nearby: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.
While Belarus maintained friendly relations with Russia since 1994, the pressure from the U.S. and the European Union and this latest coup attempt is pushing Belarus closer to Russia. President Putin declared last year he will offer support for Belarus, to his “closest ally”.
At the height of the contested reelection protests last August 2020, President Lukashenko and other top officials said that NATO had built up forces along Belarus’ Western border. He warned at the time that his military “would immediately ‘react’ with force to any NATO provocation.” The crisis died down shortly thereafter.
China in Belarus
China’s investments in Belarus are because their presence there will be of benefit to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and because of Belarus’ position as a potential gateway to European markets. China views this gateway as the ultimate goal of its BRI plans. The China Development Bank provided Belarus with a $500 million loan last year. China also invested in a variety of infrastructure projects to build a closer alliance and business partnership with Belarus.
“To date, China’s investments in Belarus have caused no problems in its relations with Russia. As part of the calculation behind its support for the BRI, Russia has sought to attract Chinese investment for infrastructure projects on its own territory. China’s investments in Belarus are potentially useful to Russia in this effort because they increase the appeal to China of a northern BRI transport corridor passing through Russian territory, traversing Belarus, and extending onward to Europe.”
The United States is keeping a close watch on these developments and shifting alliances with Belarus.
Belarus in the Top 20 for Weapon Exports
Readers may be surprised to learn that the small country of Belarus is in the top 20 of the world’s weapons dealers/exporters since 2016.
While the Belarus government “struggles with problems in the civilian segments of its machine-building industries, their defense industries perform much better. They continue to earn impressive sums year after year. Belarus retains its position among the top-20 world arms sellers. Belarusian arms manufacturers have also diversified their client base. In 2017 they sold products to 69 countries, compared to just 60 countries in 2016.”
Belarus does not heed any UN or U.S. sanctions.
There are no enforceable laws against the international arms trade. To some extent, every country which manufactures and sells weapons has a “legitimate” and an “illegal” branch of their business.
Including the United States, which is the number one arms manufacturer and exporter/dealer in the world.
Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and General Dynamics — are all located in the United States. They are the top five arms manufacturers on the planet. Technically and legally, they are not permitted to sell to most of the countries Belarus has on its client list.
Belarus client countries include Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Armenia, Angola, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, China, India, Vietnam, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Algeria (as well as other countries not on the U.S. sanctions list)
Win-Win for Russia
There was a short time in 2020 before the Belarus and U.S. elections when relations with Russia were strained. Plus there was a noticeable shift toward the United States under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. However, after the condemnation of the Belarus elections, as well as questionable results in the U.S. election process with a new President and Vice President who are not respected by the Presidents of Russia and Belarus, the U. S. is out in the cold again.
As the President of Belarus recounted:
“I am grateful to Putin. When he was talking with Biden, he asked him this question. Gurgling and no answer. Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] called me and told me about this when I arrived from Azerbaijan,” he added.
Belarus is a firmer friend and stronger ally of Putin and the Russian Federation in 2021.
Russia will benefit in a number of respects.
Energy trade will be on Russian terms for oil and gas. Security will increase for Russia with Belarus as a bolster against incursion by NATO countries. A transit and transport corridor to the west for Russia with Belarus under its influence.
President Putin and President Lukashenko have won a political and psychological victory over the U.S. In addition, NATO’s efforts to disrupt and fracture their relationship have failed. The renewed alliance of Russia and Belarus as well as the addition of China poses a formidable potential adversary to both the United States and NATO.
There is a Russian proverb which translated states: “An old friend is better than two new friends.”
About the Author:
Joanne Patti Munisteri lives a ‘different’ life that has taken her around the world. She has lived and worked in Armenia, Ukraine, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Russia, Turkey, Qatar, Malaysia, Ascension Island, Italy, Northern Ireland, England, New Zealand, Egypt, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Iraq, China, and is now working in remote Alaska. She works in the fields of education, health, monitoring and evaluation, research, and training. Joanne is a certified Combat Analyst and Social Scientist. Joanne was also part of the Human Terrain System (HTS) with the US Army, training at Ft. Leavenworth.
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