The Jamestown Foundation issued a press release about the aims of the visit of American politologists to Belarus.
The press release on organisation's website informs that the delegation received a comprehensive briefing concerning the role of Belarus in the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which supplies American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, BelaPAN news agency reports.
“The route runs from the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda, via Belarus, and onward to Afghanistan,” the press release reads. “In the past year the volume of goods and supplies that transit via the Belarus route of NDN has doubled. Belarus is set to play a growing role in the reverse transit when the U.S. and NATO forces exit from Afghanistan in 2014.”
It is noted that Belarus has undertaken such cooperation with the United States and NATO at a time when it is under Western sanctions. In fact, the Belarusian dictator got a clear hint about another way to blackmail the West. Stanislau Shushkevich, the first head of independent Belarus, comments on the information for charter97.org:
“Any tools able to soften the sanctions are important for Lukashenka. He will use all means, including blackmailing Western countries. I don't understand why Jamestown Foundation representatives help him, because their actions run counter to the policy of the United States. I remind that the Department of State, the Senate and the Congress of this country call the Lukashenka regime a dictatorship and demand to stop repression,” he said.
The politician doubts that the West will yield to blackmail by official Minsk.
“Transit of goods will not become “thirty pieces of silver”, for which the US may sell the Belarusian political prisoners. We need to understand that Lukashenka uses any cooperation with the West, including transit of goods, in his interests. It cannot be a reason for softer attitude of democratic countries towards the situation in Belarus,” Stanislau Shushkevich said.
Jamestown Foundation's President Glen Howard and analysts Vladimir Socor and Grigory Ioffe and Janusz Bugajski visited Belarus last week. They had a meeting with Lukashenka on January 21. They also met with foreign minister Uladzimir Makei, representatives of the Ministry of Defence, the Belarusian Railway Company, European diplomats with accreditation in Minsk and representatives of the Polish community.
The Jamestown Foundation was founded in 1984. It is an independent NGO focusing on political and strategic research and analysis of the situation in China, Russia, Eurasia and global terrorism. The Foundation publishes Eurasia Daily Monitor, Global Terrorism Analysis and China Brief.