"Belarus and Armenia cannot have any common interests!"
Caliber.Az interview with Valery Karbalevich
INTERVIEWS 29 November 2022 - 11:01
Caliber.Az had an interview with Valery Karbalevich, a Belarusian political scientist and candidate for historical science.
- Valery Ivanovich, how would you assess the statement of President Lukashenko at the last CSTO summit in Yerevan? In particular, his statements that "if Russia collapses, then we will be rightfully buried under the rubble". Is the situation so hopeless for Russia?
- I believe Lukashenko meant first of all himself since he has linked his political fate to that of Russia and Putin. And as a consequence, Belarus was the only state that supported Russia in the war against Ukraine. So, yes, if Russia is defeated in the war, the fate of Lukashenko's political regime would be uncertain.
As for the collapse of Russia, it is difficult to talk about it, but it is already obvious that Russia is degrading and being thrown out of the process of economic globalisation, and its technological gap with the West and China is increasing. Accordingly, the country's geopolitical weight will continue to fall, regardless of how the war in Ukraine ends. And this can be asserted quite definitely.
- Has Russia lost the war with Ukraine at the global level?
- If we talk not so much about the war as about the strategic conflict between Russia and the West, it has lost. If we talk directly about the war, then today we see a situation of strategic balance. None of the sides can achieve a decisive victory, the situation is frozen, and for quite a long time, I think. It is difficult to predict further, given that there is a war of attrition, and in this state of affairs it is not quite clear which side will be the first to fail.
- Let's return to the CSTO summit. What conclusions did Moscow draw from its results?
- If Russia drew any conclusions at all, it is about the fact that the CSTO is on the verge of a crisis. On the other hand, today Russia is experiencing a decrease in its geopolitical role, which is evident in the post-Soviet space. One example of this is the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and the confrontation between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The problem is that the CSTO emerged because its member states were focused on the fact that Russia could be a source of assistance and military, economic and political support. And Russia has played this role to a large extent. For example, the Russian Federation sold arms to CSTO countries on favorable terms, but today it is turning into a source of problems and threats. Starting a war with Ukraine, Putin explained it by saying that the collapse of the USSR was unfair, that the borders that were established as a result of the collapse of the Union were unfair, and that Russia has every moral and political right to revise these borders. It seems to me, for example, that the leadership of Kazakhstan, listening to such rhetoric, probably does not feel their country is safe, given the fairly large Russian-speaking population living there. Accordingly, the main reason for the crisis within the CSTO is that Russia, rather than a source of support, is no longer a problem factor. If Russia is still able to think rationally, it should understand this important nuance itself.
- Can a crisis in the CSTO lead to its dissolution?
- I do not think it will come to dissolution. Rather, there will be an evolution towards the CIS.
The CIS is a club where presidents meet once or twice a year, discuss some issues, then come out to journalists, take pictures and that's the end of their mission. Tell me, where else can the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan meet? At the CIS summit. So the evolution of the CSTO toward the CIS is a more realistic option than the dissolution of this bloc.
- How did you feel about the fact that as a result of the CSTO summit many different documents were adopted in Yerevan, but none against Azerbaijan?
- This is quite understandable. What common interests can Belarus and Kyrgyzstan have with Armenia, say, in terms of defenсe, and external threats? None at all. The only thing that unites these states is the demonstration of loyalty to Russia, that's all. Moscow does not want to spoil relations with Baku for the sake of Yerevan, because Azerbaijan is the leading state in the region, more influential, and richer, so it does not have unambiguous support for Armenia. Although, it is certainly in Russia's interests to maintain relations with both South Caucasian countries to sell weapons, for example. For example, it is much more important for Belarus to maintain relations with Azerbaijan than with Armenia, not only economically, but also at the level of personal contact between the presidents. The other members of the CSTO - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan - are Muslim states, and mentally and ideologically Azerbaijan is closer to them as a Muslim country than Christian Armenia. Such nuances are important in the East. These factors explain the indifferent attitude towards Armenia within the CSTO.
- Do you share the opinion that Pashinyan's demarche in Yerevan will not bring Armenia the desired results?
- Pashinyan's demarche was a blackmail attempt, counting on the support of CSTO member-states and at the same time it was aimed at the internal audience, so to say, look how firmly I defend the interests of Armenia and am ready even for a conflict with my allies. However, I also believe that such demarches will not affect the degree of Russia's support and the situation in general.
- Is it worth speaking of Armenia's withdrawal from the CSTO?
- I think Armenia has nowhere to go but CSTO, as it has no other options. Regardless of who is at the helm of the state in Armenia, the country will be forced to look up to Russia.
- Will Pashinyan agree to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan?
- It is hard to say. Although, given that the negotiation process is moving forward, sooner or later some compromise will surely be found.
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