Former SecGen of NATO: Russian attack on Ukraine was wake-up call for West (ENG video)

Belarus should stay alert after Russia’s attack on Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in the interview to Belsat TV host Syarhei Pelyasa. The 12th Secretary General of NATO also spoke out on Belarus’s part in tense relations of the West and Russia, the Crimean scenario for Belarus and Moscow’s response to would-be deploying a US military base to Poland.

What is the role of Belarus in the West-Russia tensions?

Potentially, Belarus could play an interesting role, but so far we have seen Belarus so closely working with Russia. But I think in Belarus it should be a matter of concern to see the Russian attack against Ukraine, the illegal annexation of Crimea into the Russian Federation. This could happen to Belarus in the future.

Do you believe the Crimean scenario is real for Belarus?

I do not know if it is realistic, but I think it should be a matter of concern. We have seen the whole discussion about establishment of a Russian base or bases in Belarus. So, you never know. I mean seeing from the Belarusian point of view, all countries should act according to the international law and Russia didn’t in the case of Ukraine. Will they do so in the future in the case of Belarus – you do not know. I hope to see a gradual political development a gradual liberalization of the Belarusian society. And if that is going to happen, then I think Belarus could play a very interesting role between Europe and Russia.

We remember what happened to Ukraine when the Ukrainians turned to the West and started protesting on Maidan. Do you think Russia could meddle and what the Kremlin would do if the Belarusian people decided to turn its policy to the West – revolutionally or evolutionally?

I think it is very much dependent on the Belarusian people. In Ukraine and, by the way also in Georgia, you saw very strong opposition. If the same is going to happen in Belarus, I would not exclude the possibility. Until now, it seems that opposition in Belarus has been somewhat weaker than we saw in Ukraine and Georgia. How Russia would react – we do not know. I think very much dependent on how the West approaches all this. After the Russian attack on Ukraine – I think it was a wake-up call, the West could react in a much harsher way if Russia were to clamp down on Belarus ‘revolution’, so to speak.

In a few months, the USA will decide on the permanent presence of its military base in Poland. Russia said they would respond, but there are no details. In your opinion, how may Russian use its influence on Belarus, on Lukashenka to provide a response to a US and NATO base in Poland?

No doubt that Russia would try to push for permanent stationing of Russian troops in Belarus in that case. I am very most in favour of establishing permanent bases in Poland because Russia constitutes currently a real threat towards NATO. It is a bit strange as we do have bases in Germany and elsewhere, but not in Poland. I am in favour of it provided that it can be based on NATO unity. i think it would also contribute to improve security. in that case I think Russia will try to even more pressure on Belarus.

And what way? Using missiles, planes, something else?

I do not know. Until now they have been considering air bases, but I do not know what will be their response.

The interview was part of Belsat TV program Prasviet (World and Us)

Photo: REUTERS / Yves Herman / FORUM