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Putin Using Belarus To ‘Internationalize’ And Escalate His Conflict With West – OpEd

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Western analysts are discounting the possibility that Putin will orchestrate an attack on Ukraine from Belarus, Aleksandr Skobov says, a reflection of the fact that they are viewing the situation “from a purely military-technical point of view” and “losing sight of its political component.”

In reality, “an immediate military success and even pulling Ukrainian forces off of other fronts may be deeply secondary considerations for Putin’s Nazi regime,” the Russian analyst argues because Putin wants to use Belarus to “internationalize” and escalate his conflict with the West (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=63536195AF507).

Russian attacks on Ukraine from Belarus could eventually force Ukraine to retaliate, Skobov says. That would make Alyaksandr Lukashenka a direct participant in the armed conflict and Putin will have tied himself far more firmly to himself. But the main things are not that but two other considerations.

On the one hand, “by involving countries like Iran and Belarus in the hostilities, Putin is building his ‘international coalition’ and giving ever sharper definition of his war as “a confrontation between the liberal and anti-liberal” worlds, something he hopes will “sooner or later” force most people to make a choice and that authoritarian regimes will have little choice but to side with Russia.

And on the other, Skobov continues, this “internationalization” is yet another Putin escalation. Until the West shows itself willing to commit its own military forces, “Putin is free to raise the stakes and bring the world to the brink beyond which there will be either a recognition of his annexation at least de facto or a Russian nuclear strike on the US.” 

Skobov concludes that Putin in order to internationalize and escalate the war is more than ready to “sacrifice several bases on the territory of Belarus and a certain number of lives of Russian and Belarusian soldiers.” That is something Western analysts who dismiss this possibility should remember given that Putin has never cared about the lives of others.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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