The West has been trying to defame Belarus in the eyes of Russia excluding it from its partnership programs with NATO. Yet, respect for Minsk was lost a long time ago.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that members of the Belarusian diplomatic mission to NATO would be restricted from accessing NATO headquarters in Brussels.
"We have decided to restrict the access of Belarusian personnel to the NATO headquarters based on our assessment of security measures at the headquarters," he told reporters May 31 on the eve of a NATO defense and foreign ministers meeting. "They can still enter, but only as visitors with a day pass and an escort," he added, according to Reuters.
The decision was made following the scandal with the forcible landing of the Ryanair airplane in Minsk and the subsequent arrest of dissident journalist Roman Protasevich, who was recognized as an extremist individual in Belarus.
Belarus, as a member of the CSTO, has maintained ties with the military alliance since 1992. It has had a diplomatic mission at NATO since 1998 with five representatives of the Ministry of Defense in it, reports Euronews.
Until now, "Belarusian personnel" could attend seminars and meetings both at NATO and in NATO countries within the framework of the Partnership for Peace agreement to discuss issues such as arms control and military education.
In late 2019, after the infamous presidential election in Belarus, representatives of the Belarusian Defence Ministry said that Belarus was ready to develop cooperation with NATO to maintain friendly and good-neighborly relations with foreign partners as part of the multi-vector foreign policy of the state. Defense Ministry officials found that it would be "an exaggeration to say that cooperation with NATO in the military sphere was carried out at a high level."
In March 2020, Belarus held joint military exercises with the participation of the UK Marine Corps. The war games took place at the range of the 103rd Vitebsk Separate Guards Airborne Brigade.
Alexei Bychkov, adviser to the head of the LDPR faction at the Russian Parliament, chief of the CIS Department of the Institute of Political Studies, told Pravda. Ru that Jens Stoltenberg was making the above-mentioned statements to spark anti-Belarusian sentiments in Russian political circles.
"He wants to show that Belarus was an observer at NATO, a member of agreements with the North Atlantic Alliance, which today shows its obvious hostility against Russia."
The political scientist recalled that Belarus's membership in the CSTO does not prohibit it from being a partner to other structures of the European Union, such as NATO.
According to Aleksey Bychkov, Alexander Lukashenko, when he was signing various agreements with NATO, was trying to bargain for more opportunities, powers and economic preferences for Belarus in its relations with Moscow. Moscow has seen many ultimatums at this point.
"The same thing happened in Ukraine. We can see where Ukraine stands today. Belarus was walking the same path too, until the political crisis arrived," the political scientist noted.
"Today, they try to block Belarus from all sorts of cooperation with the West. Thus, the West gives Belarus an opportunity to focus more on Russia. This implies that Belarus President Lukashenko will no longer be able to use the multi-vector principle, which he tried to use earlier, to play around with Brussels, Washington and Moscow at the same time to gain as many financial and political preferences as possible. We can see Belarus turning to Russia, and it appears that Belarus will be integrated into single economic and political space with Russia even more — more than it was within the Eurasian Economic Union," the political scientist said.