By Paul Goble
By putting Russian missiles in Kaliningrad and conducting joint exercises with Belarusian forces, Vladimir Putin is creating a new “Cuban missile crisis,” one that threatens Europe and the world and that the Kremlin leader won’t end unless the West takes action to force him to back down, according to Andrey Sannikov.
The leader of the Belarusian opposition campaign, European Belarus, says that “the aggressive actions of Russia now can with complete justification be called ‘the Cuban missile crisis’ in Europe.” Putin has consciously escalated tensions and “one can even speak about preparations for military action,” he says (charter97.org/ru/news/2016/10/8/226350/).
There cannot be any doubt about what Putin is doing or about Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s participation in it, given that the Belarusian leader has declared that he is “prepared to throw the Belarusian army into the defense of the interests of Russia,” Sannikov says, a statement that has ominous implications in the current situation.
Sannikov argues that “European politicians must stop looking for signs of ‘a peace maker’ in the dictator Lukashenka and recognize that the territory of Belarus, thanks to Lukashenka’s regime, is completely part of Russia’s military plans.”
The situation is tense and of real concern, Sannikov says, because “all attempts of the West and above all the US to reach agreement with Putin have led only to an escalation of tension in the world. The unpunished bombing of the peaceful population in Syria by Russian aviation has led only to the further enflaming of the conflict in the Middle East.”
As far as Putin is concerned, Syria is “the best means” for giving Russian forces training for other tasks. And “what the Kremlin is doing today in Europe with the use of the territory of Belarus looks like preparation for a major military operation in which Europe would be invaded via the Suwalki corridor.”
Given what Putin has done in Kaliningrad and with Belarus, “Russia would be able to envelop in ‘a pincers’ a significant part of Central and Eastern Europe, including the Baltic countries and Poland,” the Belarusian opposition leader says.
“Western politicians must stop being complacent in their relations with dictators, stop hoping that their aggression will stop on its own, and take adequate measures in order to oppose this aggression,” Sannikov says. Otherwise, the future of Europe and the world is truly going to be bleak.