• Referendums in the DPR and LPR increase the escalation and once again raise the question of whether the Belarusian regime will be forced to participate in the war.

  • Belarus is one of the few countries in the region where spending on the national army is very low, not exceeding 1.5 percent of GDP.

  • Lukashenka would like to come out dry from this Putin water.

  • Lukashenka says that we have been in a military alliance with Russia for a long time, so don't be surprised.

    And this is very alarming.

  • The development of events in the war and the latest statements of Lukashenka raise more and more questions about the possibility of amnesty.

- This is the second day Lukashenka has met with the security forces - the Minister of Defense, the Secretary of the Security Council, the Chairman of the Customs Committee - and during these meetings he made many rather sharp militaristic statements.

What can explain his sharp statements today?

Perhaps, against the background of the news from Moscow, Lukashenka, who knew about the Kremlin's plans in advance, is reacting to them accordingly?

- We can observe the aggravation of the rhetoric, which, of course, was noticeably anti-Western, anti-Ukrainian for a long time, but now it has accumulated as densely and aggressively as possible.

Belarus' alliance obligations towards Russia were very clearly emphasized.

Also worthy of serious attention is the announcement of the reform of the concept of national security, which will be submitted for "general discussion".

Of course, this is an imitation, but it shows a desire to give this concept more legitimacy.

On the other hand, it may simply be related to delaying time.

- The current concept of national security is balanced enough, "multi-vector", none of the neighbors is called an enemy.

It seems that in the current situation, only one thing can be expected - the western neighbors of Belarus will be called enemies, it will become more pro-Russian.

- If we approach this topic from afar, it should be noted that strategic consistency has never been a strong point of the Belarusian regime.

During the preparation of the final document "Concept", the situation may change radically, and the current statements may lose their relevance.

Nevertheless, what has been said now is a unequivocally pro-Russian and anti-Western position.

Perhaps this is connected with the fact that Minsk must pay tribute to Moscow under its pressure.

Today, the authorities of the so-called DPR and LPR announced a referendum on joining Russia, which seriously changes the situation for the further course of the war.

Naturally, this increases the escalation and again raises the question of whether the Belarusian regime will be forced to take a more active part in this war.

- Lukashenka "traditionally" spoke today once again about how to "protect" Belarus.

Does he again want to present any possible actions as a preventive response to someone else's aggression?

- The domestic political factor plays an important, perhaps the main, role here.

There are two points here.

First, the authorities are afraid of a new outbreak of protests.

Significant institutional changes initiated by the regime as a result of the adoption of the new Constitution are expected.

Secondly, Belarus is one of the few countries in the region where spending on the national army is very low, not exceeding 1.5 percent of GDP.

In the region, Belarus ranks second from the bottom (Moldova is the last) in terms of the paucity of funding for the Armed Forces.

It is interesting that in Lukashenka's rhetoric the level of external threats is allegedly constantly increasing, and this has been visible in him for years.

But at the same time, the financing of the army decreased in 1995 and remains at a very low level, even decreasing in proportion to the budget.

That is why Minsk emphasizes the presence of a common military group with Russia - they say, why give money for its army, if Russia will always protect us.

But one has to pay for such a position - dependence of one's army on someone else's.

— By announcing referendums in the DPR and LPR, as well as possibly in other captured regions, Putin is raising the stakes in this war.

Analysts say that this is happening, among other things, because Russia did not get any support from strong Asian countries at the SCO summit - that's why the Kremlin is in a hurry.

- Needless to say - "did not get support".

At the meeting with Putin, the Prime Minister of India publicly and unequivocally expressed his opposition to the war.

On the part of others, it could also sound offhand.

It is obvious that the balance of the SCO summit is very beneficial for Putin.

It seems that the Kremlin has decided to go all in, and this creates a new level of danger for the entire world.

Putin, however, risks more here than anyone else.

- What consequences can this escalation around "referendums" have for Belarus?

It seems that Lukashenka knew about the Kremlin's plans, which is why he started meeting with the security forces.

- We cannot guess at what stage the internal arrangements between Lukashenka and Putin are.

It can be guessed that Lukashenka would like to get out dry from this Putin's water.

But today's statements of Lukashenka really alarmed me.

For six months, he always inserted the remark that Belarus is not participating in the war, is standing on the sidelines, we are, they say, only supporting.

But today there was nothing like that.

It was about the fact that later no one would be surprised by anything, so that they would not say that it was a surprise.

After all, we have been in a military alliance with Russia for a long time, so don't be surprised.

And this worries me a lot.

— The authorities announced that an amnesty would be scheduled for September 17, the official "Day of National Unity."

But it is already the 20th, and there is still no amnesty.

Perhaps this is a purely technical aspect.

However, don't today's statements of Lukashenka, including about enemies and "conscious", change the political background for this amnesty?

- It is quite possible.

Most likely, the situation has changed, because Putin has ventured into a new phase of aggression, and therefore Lukashenko faced new circumstances.

And in order not to risk possible destabilization, amnesty is now a matter, its scope and conditions may be revised.

Although the regime is doing everything to make it clear that no relief or thaw is expected, they are likely to be wary that the amnesty will be perceived by society as a sign of the government's weakness.

The regime feels too insecure, and besides, obviously, new demands have arisen from the Kremlin.

I would like that my reasoning would not come true and as many political prisoners as possible would be released - however, the latest developments in the war and Lukashenka's statements, unfortunately, raise more and more questions about the amnesty.

  • Vitaly Tsygankov

    Vitaly Tsygankov graduated from the Faculty of Journalism of BSU.

    One of the two founders of the first non-governmental news agency BelaPAN.

    He worked in "Zvyazda" newspapers, was a correspondent in Belarus of the Russian "Nezavisimaya Gazeta", Associated Press, columnist in "Svaboda" newspaper.

    On Belarusian Freedom since 1994.

    Correspondent of Russian Freedom in Belarus.