President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko hosted a meeting on national defense today as his nation more and more appears to be targeted by the U.S. and NATO for not only economic but actual warfare.
The recently-concluded NATO summit issued a document which used the following hostile language toward the nation (Section 54): “The policies and actions of Belarus have implications for regional stability and have violated the principles which underpin our partnership.”
In accusing the small nation of engaging in behavior that could destabilize northeastern Europe (Belarus borders Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Ukraine) and of violating the principles of a thirty-nation military bloc which has waged war several times before, NATO is using language which resembles that employed before their air wars against Yugoslavia and Libya in 1999 and 2011, respectively.
If in Yugoslavia the West began with a 78-day war in 1999 and ended with a color revolution (the prototype of the model) in 2000, with Belarus the order has been reversed. An attempted color revolution scenario (with the standard techniques, funding sources in the U.S. and Europe, Otpor/CANVAS-style youth “swarming” and so forth) was launched after the presidential election last year and the threat of a military final act looms now.
The Yugoslav parallel is striking in several regards. The NATO summit communique of June 14 as noted above accuses Belarus of endangering stability in an important part of Europe and of threatening NATO’s alleged core principles (ordinarily referred to by the catchphrase rules-based international order). NATO has never needed more than such charges to threaten a nation with the use of military force.
But the bloc’s document also demands Belarus “abide by international law, respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners, including those belonging to the Union of Poles in Belarus.” NATO is not Amnesty International and has no right to determine who is a political prisoner in Belarus or any other nation. Though it has been conspicuously mute on the travesty that has been visited on Julian Assange, for example.
The mention of the Union of Poles is particularly ominous as Belarus has been warning since last summer of NATO intervening militarily (from Poland and Lithuania) in the Grodno region of western Belarus where the bulk of the nation’s ethnic Poles reside. Exactly a century ago this year the Treaty of Riga ceded part of western Belarus to Poland. This writer’s paternal grandfather was born near Minsk in what is now Belarus. I have in my possession letters from family members of his sent (in Cyrillic script) from his hometown in the mid-1930s. The postage stamps on the envelopes are Polish.
The prospect of exploiting the alleged mistreatment of ethnic Poles in Belarus could serve the same purpose as similar accusations in regard to ethnic Albanians did in the Serbian province of Kosovo in 1999: the pretext for a so-called humanitarian intervention by NATO.
The Belarusian president today is cited by the Belarusian Telegraph Agency as stating only nationwide defense can counter an invading force and drive them out of the country. In regard to the situation since last August’s election and aborted color revolution, and especially since the government’s landing of a Ryanair plane last month resulted in sanctions by the West, Lukashenko said:
“Throughout last year, we experienced first-hand how destructive information, economic and political pressure from the West influenced the worldview of our people and pushed some of them to actually betray their own people. It is always necessary to produce such a response that will be remembered by the enemy for many years. And only nationwide defense is capable of such a response. In other words, we all need to rise up if we want to defend our land.”
He reminded his interlocutors that earlier this week he inspected small arms and ammunition plants, adding that munitions factories are needed to “improve the material and technical infrastructure of territorial defense forces.”
If the preceding two paragraphs referenced present dynamics, the following statement by the president is a warning about the future, and possibly a not-too-distant one:
“In the event of a conflict, each neighborhood, each house, each head of the household, at least, should be able to defend their families, themselves and, of course, the land, the territory where they live. This will be nationwide defense.”
In another account of his comments a degree of urgency is apparent that suggests a nation on the eve of war. Six days from now will be the 80th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Belarus bore the brunt of the invasion and suffered per capita the worst casualties of any region in World War II not only in the Soviet Union but in all of Europe. Estimates range from one-quarter to one-third of all Belarusians died in the war. Like most of his compatriots, that fact can never be far from Lukashenko’s thoughts.
The state news media quotes these additional statements of his at the same meeting of the Shklov District Executive Committee:
“Local government bodies, the chairmen of district executive committees and oblast executive committees need to learn to be at war. You need to know which facilities you will need to protect. You should know where people are and mobilize them not within five or six months but within 24 hours….
“In short, at any moment you must be able to raise the alarm and mobilize people within three days to guard those objects that need to be protected. Everyone in the country should be preparing for this after today’s meeting. One of the goals of the meeting is to give a signal to each zone (we have seven of them), each district to be ready to mobilize during the period designated by the president.”
The tone of the above comments doesn’t have the ring of idle words. Or of bluster. But of the most serious concern.
Rick Rozoff is a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. He is the manager of Stop NATO. This originally appeared at Anti-Bellum.