No change in Russia’s 'aggressive stance': Polish security expert

Russia is not changing its hostile policies toward Ukraine and other countries, a Polish security expert has warned, adding that the Kremlin’s recent announcement that it would withdraw troops from near Ukraine „should not be interpreted as a change in Moscow’s aggressive stance.”

Stanisław Żaryn.

Stanisław Żaryn.Photo: PAP/Tomasz Gzell

The Kremlin „will still be waging war against Ukraine, occupying Ukrainian territory and applying political and military pressure on Kiev, even if Russia pulls back the troops it deployed to Ukraine’s border in recent months,” Stanisław Żaryn, spokesman for Poland’s security services chief, said in a statement.

He continued:

„It is clear that Moscow remains a real threat to other countries. Russia’s imperial plans are being implemented step by step. Russia is increasing its abilities to interfere in other countries' affairs and taking hostile actions against Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

„This is clearly visible in relations between Russia and Belarus. Step by step, the Kremlin is implementing its plan to strengthen Moscow’s control over Minsk. The recent replacement of Russia’s ambassador to Minsk may be a symbol of the increasing pressure being exerted by Russia on Belarus.

„The appointment of Yevgeny Lukyanov – a prominent and experienced member of the Russian establishment – as ambassador to Belarus means the Kremlin has decided to further tighten its grip on President Alexander Lukashenko.

„The move is also likely to be followed by an intensification of hostile propaganda activities undertaken by the regime in Minsk against Poland. Lukyanov is known to have been one of the most fervent advocates for the launch by the Kremlin of a hostile campaign against Poland, NATO and the European Union in response to the so-called Euromaidan in Ukraine in 2013.

„On March 10, 2021, the State Duma – the lower house of the Russian parliament – approved the appointment of Yevgeny Lukyanov as the new Russian ambassador to Belarus. This choice implies that Moscow is set to further boost the pressure it has been exerting on the regime in Minsk.

„The outgoing head of Russia’s diplomatic mission to Belarus, Dmitry Mezentsev, was an advocate of a more conciliatory approach to Lukashenko, which he showed by allowing the Belarusian dictator to keep up appearances of independence by limiting bilateral consultation to an absolute minimum.

„With him stepping down from office, the position of Lukashenko is likely to be considerably undermined as the Kremlin is clearly aiming to tighten the reins on the Belarusian president.

„Lukyanov is a seasoned representative of the Russian political elites and someone who can be aggressive during media appearances. He was one of the fiercest advocates of the Russian disinformation campaign that accused NATO and the EU of financing the wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine in 2013, later dubbed Euromaidan.

„One of the narratives spread as part of that hostile influence operation was that Poland allegedly provided a training ground for the 'militants of the West.' This may mean that under Lukyanov aggressive anti-Polish propaganda pushed by Minsk could become even more aggressive.

„Lukyanov has served as Russia’s ambassador to Latvia since December 2016. Prior to that he assumed the position of Deputy Secretary of the Russian Security Council and the Plenipotentiary of the Russian President in the Northwestern Federal District. He also held executive positions at Dresdner Bank and VTB from 1993 to 2006 – it is where and when he established a broad network of contacts in the Russian financial circles. His career proves him to be a powerful figure in the political establishment in Russia.”

Stanisław Żaryn is spokesman for Poland’s Minister-Special Services Coordinator. He is also director of the National Security Department at the Polish Prime Minister’s Office.

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