For the last two years after our previous monitoring, we have witnessed a continued effort on the part of the Russian Federation to undermine the post-WW2 world order. Just to name a few actions, after the annexation of Crimea, Russia continued its aggression in the east of Ukraine, which by now has turned into trench warfare. Russia spurred the military campaign against the Syrian people on the side of the Assad regime, and it led to the death of thousands of civilians. Apart from cyber-attacks and social media manipulations, Russian intelligence agencies engaged in outright terrorist actions outside of Russia. They perpetrated and carried out political killings in the peaceful Ukrainian cities, kidnapped citizens of Ukraine from the territory of Belarus. Russia has been especially active in pursuing coercive policies in its immediate neighborhood.
Belarus is a geostrategically important territory for the Russian Federation, control over it gives Russia important military advantages and provides political leverage towards world powers and neighboring countries. Russia and Belarus are now actively building up troops and equipment of Unified Regional Group of Forces, creating a unified air defense system. Joint military exercises with Russia have become regular, the number of the exercises is rapidly growing, promoting operational harmonization of the Belarusian army with the Russian units (many of which participated in the hostilities in Ukraine and Syria). These military integration efforts have so far culminated in the joint strategic military exercise Zapad-2017.
This kind of political and military symbiosis has been implemented gradually. During the active phase of Russian military aggression against Ukraine in 2014, Belarus was effectively involved in the confrontation on the side of Russia. At the height of the hostilities in the eastern Ukraine, Russian military transport aviation and a fighter squadron with technical personnel and standard armament were deployed to Belarusian air bases in Babruisk and Baranavichy. Using an A-50 long-range airborne early warning and control aircraft from the territory of Belarus the Russian air force controlled practically all the airspace above the northern part of Ukraine. In 2015 and 2016 the Russian air wing, under the pretext of Belarus’ obligations as the member of the so-called “Union State”, trained delivering massive air strikes from Belarusian airspace on strategic targets on the territory of the Baltic States and Ukraine. Finally, another front of information warfare was launched in Belarus against Ukraine in the spring of 2017 with a series of provocations on the state border and internment of Ukrainian citizens.
These are just some of the signs of Russia using military and strategic potential of Belarus in its destructive schemes in full disregard of the interests of Belarus itself. The military and political leaders of Belarus, on their part, are neglecting the constitutionally mandated neutrality and are blindly dragging the country into a military alignment with the Russian Federation further undermining its less than stellar international standing. Belarus is rapidly becoming a Russian protectorate by delegating a considerable part of its sovereignty to the Russian Federation in exchange for military protection against the imaginary threat from the West, thus letting Russia control an important part of its foreign affairs. A fundamental role in this process is played by the Russian agents of influence permeating all levels of Belarusian state administration system.
We have collected material about a vast number of important Belarusians with ties to Russia. In comparison with the monitoring of 2015, this piece contains more names and details for analysis. It lists a number of top military and law enforcement officers as well as officials of the Republic of Belarus. The main selection criteria were: place of birth outside Belarus, higher military education received in the Russian Federation, episodes of service in the Soviet KGB or later Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the USSR or Russian Federation, service in the Russian army, etc. It also includes former members of the Soviet Communist Party and some individuals who were related to the financial and diplomatic Russian-Belarusian circles. The monitoring is based on the open-source information from several ministries and departments, or from the state-owned media.
This monitoring contains a list of persons with relevant facts of their biographies. It also includes some facts of their service. We are not labeling specific listed officials or officers as Russian agents of influence; however, we are providing leads for further or deeper analysis. This is also an attempt to show a statistical picture.
The Supreme Command of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus (3 officers)
Lieutenant General, Minister of Defense of the Republic of Belarus.
Born in 1967 in Revyaki, Beshankovichy district, Vitebsk Voblast, Soviet Belarus. Graduated with honors from the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in 2005. Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General on May 7, 2016.
Major General, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, First Deputy of the Minister of Defense.
Born in 1965 in the village of Barabash, Khasan District of Primorsky Krai, Soviet Russia.
Major General, Deputy Minister for Logistics – Commander of Logistics of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus.
Born in 1973 in Pleschenitsy, Minsk Voblast, Soviet Belarus. Graduated from the Military Academy of Logistics and Transport of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in 2003. Graduated with honors from the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in 2012 (archive).
The following changes took place in command structure: On November 23, 2015, Major General Mikhail Puzikov was relieved of his position as Deputy Minister of Defense and was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus (information about him presented below in the relevant section). Major General Sergey Potapenko, a native of Belarus, a graduate of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Republic of Belarus, was appointed to his position on January 12, 2016. Major General Igor Lotenkov, who featured in our previous investigation as a graduate of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, was relieved of his position as Deputy Defense Minister for Arms and Chief of Armament of the Armed Forces due to the discharge from military service to the reserve on May 22, 2017. Major General Sergey Simonenko, a native of Belarus and a graduate of the Military Academy of the Republic of Belarus was appointed to his position. Major General Vitaly Kireev was also discharged to the reserve (he featured in our previous investigation, a native of Magadan), he was replaced by Major General Andrei Burdyko as Deputy Defense Minister for Logistics. In the previous monitoring the entire top rank command of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus was on this list, this time only 60 percent (3 out of 5) of mentioned above officials got on the list. However, we are still witnessing the steady practice of appointing graduates of Russian military schools to the command positions.
General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus (7 officers)
The information about the heads of ten departments is available from open sources. Except for the mentioned above Oleg Belokoniev, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, this monitoring also includes:
Major General, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus – head of the main operational command.
Born in 1971 in Maryina Horka, Pukhavichy District, Minsk Voblast, Soviet Belarus. Graduated with distinguished honors from the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in 2008.
Major General, till recently the Head of Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus.
Date and place of birth – n/a. Graduated from the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
Major General, Head of the Territorial Defense Department, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus.
Born in 1960. Born allegedly in Zaporozhia, Krasnyi Luch district, Luhansk Oblast, Soviet Ukraine. Graduated from the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Took part in Russian intervention to Afghanistan. Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General (1,2) on February 22, 2016.
Colonel, Head of the EW Department of General Staff of Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus.
Born in 1969 in the village of Lvovka, Vawkavysk district, Grodno Voblast, Soviet Belarus. Graduated from the Gagarin Air Force Academy of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation (archive).