Minsk is taking part in negotiations with NATO on holding joint peacekeeping exercises, the Belarussian Defense Ministry told Russian State media on December 31.
Belarus joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program in January 1995.
The Belarussian Defense Ministry said, “As far as joint exercises with NATO are concerned, the issue on the agenda is negotiations, and not preparations,” the Defense Ministry said.
“As preparations are underway for delegating a peace-keeping unit to the Italian contingent of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, the possibility is being considered of joint drills with representatives of the Italian Republic’s armed forces.
“In particular, the issue on the agenda is to achieve better cooperation by units commissioned to maintain international peace and security”.
Belarus has had a permanent mission at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels since 1998.
Defence Insight Analysis
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Crimea, Minsk took a neutral stance between Russia and the West becoming a venue for the peace talks that saw the two Minsk agreements concluded in 2014 and 2015.
Belarus remains an ally of Russi and in a military conflict it would side with Moscow. But it is also ready to do everything it can to prevent such a war from starting and alleviate regional tensions.
“We are on the front line. If we don’t survive these years, if we will fail, it means we will have to become part of some other state, or they will simply wipe their feet on us. God forbid they unleash another war, like in Ukraine,” Lukashenko said in the summer of 2018.
Minsk has n important network of bilateral, military-to-military agreements with country in the region. It has agreements with Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland (all NATO members) for regional confidence and security-building measures. With Ukraine, Belarus has an even stronger agreement on security cooperation.