NATO has taken up speaking in menacing terms not heard since the depth of the Cold War of a threat posed by “Minsk and Moscow” to Europe and the world.
So far this year, and ahead of next week’s NATO summit in Belgium, the commanders of the Pentagon’s Unified Combatant Commands and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg have denounced and thundered against Russia and China as rivals and adversaries in every part of the world, with Iran and North Korea identified as second-tier threats. All four are treated as nuclear powers, real or imagined. They are the Axis of Evil of 2021, supplanting that of 2001.
In recent weeks a fifth nation has been added: Belarus. The momentum to brand it as such has been mounting since last August when the West supported presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya against the then-incumbent president, Alexander Lukashenko. It reached a record level after the Belarusian government’s landing of a Ryanair passenger plane with opposition figure Roman Protasevich on board last month. NATO has taken up the refrain with a vengeance, speaking in menacing terms not heard since the depth of the Cold War of a threat posed by “Minsk and Moscow” to Europe and the world. (Fifty years ago it would have been the Free World.)
Belarus is the only European nation (excluding microstates) except Russia that is not a NATO member or aspiring member, which doesn’t host regular NATO- and U.S.-led war games and which has not supplied troops for NATO operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. In short, it’s bad example that must be made an example of.
On June 9 Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke by telephone from the Czech Republic, where she now resides, to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and urged it to promote sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union against her homeland, which she took the occasion of libeling as “the North Korea of Europe.” By her definition Belarus could have been a member of the first as well as the current Axis of Evil.
Belarusian press recently cited Sergei Rachkov, chairman of the International Affairs and National Security Commission of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus, warning that the US and its European NATO allies are intensifying threats to his country and in doing so adding to tensions in Eastern Europe as a whole.
He said that the concerted effort by the West – one which in many ways is ominously evocative of the characterization of and efforts against Serbia/Yugoslavia in the late 1990s – is in large part motivated by the desire to wrest Belarus from its close relationship to Russia, hence eliminating the last remaining buffer between Russia and the thirty-nation military mega-bloc.
Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya:
– US, UK and EU must jointly act to pressure Belarus
– I’ve not yet been invited to attend G7 meeting
– More sanctions need to be imposed on Belarus government pic.twitter.com/hJJmUwOHrj
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) June 4, 2021
Perhaps Rachkov’s most incisive observations are these:
“Of course, this is a geopolitical strategy. Before that, there was a failed scenario of a color revolution. We saw the attempts to disrupt the operation of enterprises, to organize strikes, and draw women and young people into protests. But the consolidation of our society around the head of state has put a stop to these processes, the main purpose of which was to try to change the behavior of Belarus, which has long been an irritant for the West that wants us to play by its rules, with which we conceptually disagree….”
He added that Belarus recently has chosen, in the face of unrelenting and mounting hostility from the US and the European Union, to develop closer relations with China, India and the nations of Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Referring to the likes of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya calling for punitive and onerous sanctions against their own country and people, the Belarusian official offered this perspective: “By the way, the very phenomenon is strange, if not ugly. I have been working in international relations for a long time, and I do not remember any cases when citizens would advocate a better life for people but in reality use methods that can lead to chaos.”
Many people, in fact most in the world, are still living in the era of the first Axis of Evil; in their minds living in 2001. The world of 2021 is far more dangerous, with the very plausible threat of war in Europe that might, that almost certainly would, result in a military showdown between the world’s two major nuclear powers.