Belarus: the view below the line

29 May

Thursday’s post – Belarus: the plot thickens – generated useful BTL exchanges. It may help if I sum up one strand of thought on the affair. A French journalist cited in my post, one Christelle Néant, floats the possibility of Ukraine authoring the bomb hoax. Under this putative scenario Kiev may have acted unilaterally, in a tit for tat between two neighbouring states venomously antagonistic ever since the 2014 Maidan colour revolution. Alternatively, it may have acted with the encouragement if not the active involvement of Western secret services.

In other words Ms Néant speculates that, in a part of the world I regard as one of the planet’s likeliest flashpoints for a very short WW3, Minsk was set up and took the bait. Not by advising the Ryanair pilot to land but by arresting Protasevitch once he did so.

Johnny Conspiranoid (great name btw) asked:

What can the west do to the Belarus economy though?

My reply being:

… impose further crippling sanctions and redouble its efforts at colour revolution to oust Lukashenka and tighten the NATO noose on Moscow.

In another comment Mr Conspiranoid picked up on my saying that, even if MInsk was tricked by Kiev into believing the Ryanair flight had a bomb onboard, that would not explain why it seized the chance to arrest Roman Protasevitch. Making a fair point, he offers this:

Because he is a terrorist 1 who seeks the violent overthrow of the state and its replacement with a foreign backed regime perhaps?

My reply being:

Maybe. But I think Christelle Néant raises a valid point – why would Minsk risk so much for so minor a player as Protasevich? – for which Susan O’Neill [earlier on the same thread] offers a possible reason: that Lukashenka has been reduced, by constant threat of colour revolution, to a bag of paranoid nerves. In other words there may be no rational answer as to why the bait, if bait it was, was taken and the man arrested.

Susan O’Neill is a frequent and much valued commenter on my blog. Yesterday, a day after the above exchanges but on the same thread, she offered this:

As Dave [Hansell: another much valued commenter] points out, we may never know just what Protasevich knows or believes in, but it is very likely that either he offered himself as a sponsored actor in the CIA and deep state machinations or was approached by said Agency & co because his leanings were already known and he was thought to be useful. Either way, If I have the situation right, he will have information of some sort and as I have already stated, if Lukashenka is desperate to regain control of the country, and he is, who knows what he will do next to secure some kind of validation of his rule? He’s certainly not winning the battle as things stand.

My augmentative reply being to quote from a piece in Moon of Alabama. It reminds us of a detail likely lost on Guardian readers; viz, that Minsk has invited international observers in:

The [Belarus] aviation department report closes with this:

[We] … have taken and will continue to take the necessary measures [under] international and national legislation aimed at ensuring reliable protection of civil aviation from acts of unlawful interference.

[To this end we have] invited representatives of ICAO, IATA, EASA, and EU and USA Civil Aviation Authorities.

After commenting on available evidence, including the ‘bomb email’ and transcripts of the exchanges between pilot and Minsk air control, Moon of Alabama goes on to say:

Those international organizations should accept the invitation and take a deeper look at the issue. They should talk to the pilots and listen to the radio traffic as recorded by the cockpit voice recorder. I am convinced that they will find that everything happened exactly as the Belorussian authorities said. They received a bomb threat against the plane, informed the pilot and recommended to land in Minsk. The pilot weighted the circumstances and decided correctly to follow the advise.

There is only one big question for which we have yet to find an answer. Who sent the email that led to all this and for which purpose? One can easily construe motives for both sides.

A. Belarus secret services wanted to capture Roman Protasevich no matter what and sent the email. They were willing to accept the predictable sanctions that would follow such a move.

B. The regime change gang that met in Greece wanted new attention and fresh sanctions on Belarus. Someone in the team sent the email. The group was willing to accept a few years of jail time for Protasevich who might or might not have been in on this.

I have no further evidence to decide if A or B is right. There is however a lot of historic evidence that ‘western’ supported regime-changers are extremely ruthless and willing to play with the lives and well being of other people. My gut feeling therefore tends to B.

I’m inclined to agree with Moon of A’s suspicions but, as Dave Hansell has noted on this same thread, there’s much here that we can’t and likely never will know. But two things we do know. One, as the stakes rise the systemic ability of corporate media to tell us the truth, and explore questions our real rulers do not want explored, plummets correspondingly. Two, on Russia’s Western borderlands – up there with Middle East and South China Sea as one of the planet’s three likeliest flashpoints for WW3 – the stakes are always high.

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  1. For further info on Protasevitch-as-terrorist (of neo-Nazi stripe) see the GrayZone piece, also cited in my Thursday post.

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