I am ready to improve our brotherly ties – Russia envoy to Belarus

The cooperation in the Belarus-Russia Union State should be real so that the union would not turn into a make-believe project, Ambassador of Russia to Belarus Mikhail Babich said when presenting credentials to Alyaksandr Lukashenka on Tuesday.

“I am the man who is set to do my best so that our relations would be truly brotherly, so that they would be strengthened, so that we could have a full-featured economic integration and develop our political union where conditions allow,” Mikhail Babich said.

According to the diplomat, the start of his mission does not mean opening a new stage in the mutual relations, it is nothing but the continuation of the longstanding partnership.

“We appreciate the work done before. But, of course, in the context of the recent decisions taken in Sochi, we need new and dynamic answers ,” he said.

In early August, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree, appointing Presidential Envoy to the Volga Federal District Mikhail Babich as Russia’s Ambassador to Belarus and Special Presidential Envoy for Trade and Economic Cooperation with Belarus.

Mikhail Babich, 49, is from Ryazan, he served in the Airborne Forces and the KGB, then in the FSB. From 1995 to 1998 he was the head of the corporation Antey in Moscow, which develops and manufactures weapons for the air defense forces. From November 2002 to February 2003, he headed the government of the Chechen Republic.

While working for Rosmyasomoltorg state-run company and as vice-governor of Ivanovo region, he was involved in a financial fraud scandal. According to Russian media, in 2001 the General Prosecutor’s Office even authorized the arrest, but all things came right for him in the end.

Analysts describe Babich as an energetic, tough-talk and and decisive person, who has the presidential confidence as well as good friends in the secret services.

After the dismissal of Mikhail Zurabov from the post of Russia’s Ambassador in Kyiv in July 2016, the Babich’s appointment was considered. However, the Ukrainian side opposed it. Among the reasons was the fact that in 2014 Babich supported the annexation of Crimea. Then the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that ‘the question was removed from the agenda at the initiative of the Ukrainian side’.

Babich, who is connected with the Soviet KGB and the Russian FSB, could become the ‘ambassador of war’, that he is a ‘professional saboteur’ and a ‘classic candidate for the Kremlin to work with separatists in Donbas to organize force operations’, Ukrainian experts believe. According to some Russian media outlets, this appointment is indicative of Moscow’s holding a course for the takeover of Belarus.