MS Risk Blog

Security Review – Eastern Europe

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For the past month, Belarus has conducted mass raids, interrogation and arrest against political prisoners and its friends and relatives. According to Vasana Human Rights Centre, Belarusian human rights group reported that this is one of the most serious crackdowns in recent years. In late January, at least 159 people was prosecuted across the country by the Belarusian State Security Committee, referred to as Belarusian KGB.

Most of the arrest and persecution was made at their homes and workplaces of family and friends of political prisoners. Most of them were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements, and some detainee’s phones were inspected, and monitoring software was installed.

Belarusian authorities experienced huge opposition demonstrations and it’s crackdown three years ago after the disputed presidential vote in 2020. Ever since, Belarusian authorities has concentrated their effort on oppressing political opposition, while getting into close ties with Moscow more than ever. Currently Belarusian president is one of the few allies of Moscow, actively supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine. Recent crackdown of opposition it likely due to the parliamentary election on 25th February 2024.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Belarus exiled opposition leader has called for a boycott of the election, calling it as “ritual without meaning or justice”. This is due to a fact that previous presidential election of 2020 was unjust, and the ‘All-Belarusian People’s Assembly”, which would be appointed by the newly elected regional and national authorities does not have any political power outside of Lukashenka’s grip.

It is highly likely that the parliamentary election’s result would be in favour to President Lukashenko, and Belarusian authorities would conduct whatever it takes to make it sure. With the humanitarian crisis, oppression against opposition and possibility of rigged election, most of the Western countries are against the current situation of Belarus. However Belarus is closing ties with Russia, which became it’s political sponsor and China, which became the biggest ally of Russia since war in Ukraine.


Transdniestria has been one of the biggest nightmares for the current government of Moldova, due to the fact that the condition is similar with Eastern Ukraine, and it is close with border with Ukraine. In 22 January, leader of pro-Russian separatist Transdniestria region called on its defence and intelligence institutions to maintain high level of military preparedness and hold regular drills, rising tension with government.

For 3 decades since the collapse of USSR, Transdniestria was controlled by the pro-Russian population who speaks Russian. From time to time, it was suspected that the direct connection with Moscow exist. Current leader, Vadim Krasnoeslsky expressed his support for unification with Russia and was suspected that he’s government is secretly supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine and letting illegal arms and drug trade.

Also, direct Russian influence also exist in this region. Transnistria hosts 1,500 Russian troops on national security grounds. In the early stage of the Ukraine war, the Russian forces attempted to push in the southern part of the Ukraine, gaining control of the Black Sea, and getting territorial connection with the Transnistria. Although this attempt has failed with the Russian offensive failing at southern part of Ukraine, such Russian threat is still a serious matter for Moldova.

Such tension is rising since Moldova is trying to join EU. Moldova was official granted candidate status by EU on 22 June 2022 with Ukraine. Maia Sandu, who is a president of Moldova since 2020 is the one who is pushing Moldova into EU. Such tension between Moldova and its separatist local government would be likely continue because of the growing tension with Russia and the West.


Farmers protest in Poland is escalating. In early January, Poland experience political protest after the arrest of the key members of the previous administration. This issue is still an ongoing problem with the new pro-EU administration, but currently the bigger problem for the new government is the farmers protest that is erupting across the continent.

Poland farmers are joining series of protests by their counterparts in Germany, France, Romania, Creece, Latvia, Lethuania and Belgium. The organizers, the Solidarity Union of Individual Framers claimed that , it is directed against the policy of the European Union, Green Deal and the policy that allows for an uncontrolled inflow of farming produce from Ukraine.

Over 250 protest action has been announced at 9 February, blocking access road to major cities including Poznań, Wrocław, Katowice, Białystok and Kraków. This is a major political blow for the current administration, but the immediate change of EU policy by the current pro-EU administration is unrealistic, indicating that such turmoil would not over soon.


On 9 February, Russian president interview with Tucker Carlson, the ex-For News anchor. Direct interview by the Western journalist of Putin is rare event, therefore global interest was concentrated on the 2-hour interview that was released on the website of Tucker Calrson and X. This is the first time president Putin agreed to an interview outside Russia since Ukraine war, and the claim of President Putin had lots of similarity with the announcement by himself before launching the invasion on Ukraine.

 Majority of President Putin’s claim on the interview was focused on the Russia’s victimization against Western aggression, with the historical context that concludes to Russia’s claim that Ukraine is artificial nation made by the West. On the question by Carlson about the distraction of Nord stream and arrest of American journalist from Wall Street Journal Evan Gershkovich, he claimed fault on West. The arrest of journalist is because of his espionage act. But he also stated that authorities would be willing to release him if “our partners take reciprocal steps.” And the Nord stream was destroyed by the CIA.

Although the message has not been changed since the start of the invasion, the interview and its broadcast indicates that Kremlin is still pushing the narrative of ‘Protector of Western value’ against the West. And the fact that the claim that Russia is protecting it’s Christian value against corrupted liberal West would send a powerful message to the audience of US and Europe. The upcoming presidential election of the US and rise of far-right party in Europe would be possible target for Kremlin’s attempt on this interview.

This also stages Tucker Carlson in a position that could influence the frustrated right wing conservative population in West. He has been one of the major representatives of far-right movement especially in US, and this interview would likely to make him one of the biggest star to certain population. The future actions as possible far-right idol is unknown, but it is likely that he would play key roles on the upcoming election within Trump supporters.


President Volodymyr Zelensky announced in 9 February the dismissal of Valerii Zaluzhnyi, top commander of Ukrainian military and the face of the defence of Ukraine since the invasion of Russia. General Zaluzhnyi’s dispute between president is because counteroffensive of Ukraine has failed, and Ukraine is facing Russian forces and ammunition and other aid shortages. The replacement of Zaluzhnyi would be Oleksandr Syrskyi, who has been Commander of Ukrainian Land Forces since 2019. It is unknown Zaluzhnyi would remain in the military.

The replacement of Zaluzhnyi is a political gamble for president Zelensky, since the Ukrainian’s failure of counteroffensive created scepticism about supporting Ukraine, and Zaluzhnyi still remaining one of the most popular figure in the country. The current support for Zaluzhnyi is 88%, higher than Zelensky’s approval rating with 62%. There is a possibility that the replacement is not just because of the military failure, but the fact that Zaluzhnyi could emerge as political rival against Zelensky, although Zaluzhnyi did not shown political ambition that much.

Critical opinion within the military is being seen. According to CNN, one of the frontline commanders of Ukrainian forces claimed that changing the Commander in Chief in the middle of the war hurts military effort to win the war. However, it is also true that the long war with different stage requires different set of leadership skills, and it is undeniable that the current stage of frontline is different comparing with the initial stage of Ukrainian war.