The World Today for April 17, 2023

NEED TO KNOW

Fair Weather Friend

BELARUS

Belarusian authorities recently announced that Russia would station nuclear missiles in their country, placing the weapons closer to NATO members. “This will be done despite the noise in Europe and the United States,” Boris Gryzlov, the Russian ambassador to Belarus, told Belarusian state television, according to Al Jazeera.

The move, which set off fear and fury in Western capitals, is more symbolic than strategic, argued geopolitical pundit Peter Zeihan in a YouTube video. Belarus lacks the infrastructure to host a serious nuclear deterrent, said Zeihan, but the prospect of Russia deploying nukes is obviously a warning to Western leaders who have been providing diplomatic, financial, and military support to Ukraine.

Describing the move as an example of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “creeping annexation” of Belarus, a former Soviet republic that traditionally was part of the Russian empire, the Atlantic Council argued that Belarus had become a Russian “client state.” Previously, Western leaders had sought to improve relations with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in order to peel away a Kremlin ally, who was also pushing for more independence from Moscow. Now, they will likely stop trying.

Lukashenko, meanwhile, will have fewer options in dealing with Russia after the nukes are stationed in his country, added the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Russian officials defended their and Belarus’ right to deploy weaponry as they saw fit. “The collective West is not inclined to somehow recall the topic of American nuclear weapons, which are based here in Europe, around our country,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian media, according to the Anadolu Agency.

Belarus ideologically is almost a mirror image of Russia. In the same way that Putin’s brave political opponents tend to end up in jail on treason, instigating civil unrest, and similar bogus charges, Belarusian courts recently sentenced an opposition politician in absentia to 15 years in prison for joining a “conspiracy to seize power,” reported the Moscow Times.

Journalists and 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski, a Belarusian political activist, have also been sentenced to jail for trumped-up crimes.

Belarus has played only a small part in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however. Leaked American documents stated that Ukrainians shot down drones in Belarus, for example, The Hill wrote. Activists allege Russians who kidnapped Ukrainian children might have left them in Belarus, too, noted the state-run Ukrinform news agency. Lukashenko has also requested Russian security guarantees in case his country becomes dragged into a fight with NATO, reported Radio Free Europe.

But Belarus has not yet committed fighters – maybe because Lukashenko can’t. Observers have said Belarusian conscripts would probably desert their army rather than fight. Some are already fighting on Ukraine’s side.

In this case, the conscripts might be smarter than the generals.

To read the full edition and support independent journalism, join our community of informed readers and subscribe today!

Not already a subscriber?

If you would like to receive DailyChatter directly to your inbox each morning, subscribe below with a free two-week trial.

Subscribe today

Support journalism that’s independent, non-partisan, and fair.

If you are a student or faculty with a valid school email, you can sign up for a FREE student subscription or faculty subscription.

Questions? Write to us at hello@dailychatter.com.



You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.