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Paul Antonopoulos, independent geopolitical analyst
A recent online meeting hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank discussed ways to force regime change in Belarus. The think tank detailed a plan with the aim of removing Aleksander Lukashenko, the current president of Belarus, from power by utilizing sanctions and other methods of pressure.
The Washington-based Atlantic Council is affiliated with NATO and receives funding from international billionaires like Adrienne Arsht, global companies like Goldman Sachs, Facebook and Google, as well as the Rockefeller Foundation and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. These are only a few examples of their extensive funding. Some of the most powerful and influential figures in the world participate in the operations of the think tank, as well as a representative of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Belarus’ main opposition figure.
Objectives of the virtual meeting, entitled “Biden and Belarus: A strategy for the new administration,” includes organizing Washington’s control over the Belarussian opposition movement. In addition, they suggest a new position for a senior organizer to administer and maintain sanctions against Minsk, and appoint a senior official to administer assistance to the opposition. Their agenda also emphasized recognizing Tikhanovskaya's position as the true leader of Belarus and delegitimize Lukashenko by relocating the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to the Belarussian capital of Minsk, Julie Fisher, to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.
The Atlantic Council also suggested that U.S. Congressional funding for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty must be doubled from its current $117.4 million. The think tank also called for the U.S. to offer more advice to Belarussian opposition leaders. John Herbst, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, suggested in the virtual meeting that Belarussian opposition leaders should reduce public expressions about their aspirations for Minsk to be involved in Western security councils like NATO and economic structures like the European Union so that they do not provoke any response from Moscow.
Economist Anders Åslund, who is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, also suggested that sanctions should be applied to companies in Russia and not Belarus. He argued that if sanctions hit Belarus, Minsk would be more dependent on Moscow. He also advised the Biden administration to sanction hundreds of Belarussian officials, saying that the aim of the sanctions is to put enough pressure on Belarus so that Lukashenko has no choice but to relinquish power. Åslund emphasized that this is really a group of regime change sanctions. In addition, the think tank suggested that the U.S. should increase its funding of the Belarussian opposition from $60 million to $200 million, saying that this amount came from Belarussian activists themselves.
As Åslund himself says, these measures exist entirely to force regime change against a sovereign nation. The mission of the Atlantic Council is to encourage and embolden the U.S. to control the Belarussian opposition movement with the aim of overthrowing Lukashenko. At the same time, the think tank claims that it respects Belarus’ sovereignty. However, it is evident that the think tank does not respect the sovereignty or self-determination of the Belarussian people and simply wants the Biden administration to install a lackey into power to continue Washington’s campaign of pressure against Russia.
If the Biden administration adopts the recommendations made by the Atlantic Council, this would not only cause significant tensions and further divisions in Belarus, but would also increase tensions between Washington and Moscow, which are already extremely strained.
The Atlantic Council promotes Western hegemony and a U.S.-led unipolar world order. The think tank is ranked seventh in the category of “2020 Top Think Tanks in the United States,” and tenth globally. Along with funding from the world’s richest people and most powerful corporations, the Atlantic Council wields great influence in not only NATO, but also various U.S. power structures like the White House and the Pentagon. For this reason, there is every chance that at some point during Biden’s presidential mandate that he will engage in a significant campaign of pressure against Belarus with the ultimate aim of further isolating Russia in Eastern Europe.
As the Atlantic Council attempts to maintain a U.S.-led unipolar order, Russia is one of its main targets because the Eurasian country inhibits American dominance over large areas of the Caucasus, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Because Belarus is the sole friendly state in Eastern Europe towards Russia, Lukashenko’s removal from power will open the path for Russia to be completely isolated in the region. Biden also champions a U.S.-led unipolar order, and because of this there is every chance that at some point in the future he will enact the Atlantic Council’s program against Belarus to target Russia.
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