NATO source reveals: 'Putin has decided to fully back Lukashenko'

"Putin knows you can't arrest 100,000 people, but if you arrest the right 500, the others won't show up."

Y Rabinovitz ,

Russian President Vladimir Putin - a 'little green man' ?
Russian President Vladimir Putin - a 'little green man' ?

A NATO source from a Baltic country who cannot be named for security reasons has revealed heightened Russian interference in Belarus, aimed to strengthen President Alexander Lukashenko's hold on power.

BusinessInsider reports that the source related: "Putin has decided to fully back Lukashenko to prevent him from falling to this popular uprising. What his end goal with this is, remains unclear. But for now we have seen the signs that he is pushing soft power support to Lukashenko. The question is, do we see a hard power effort or 'Little Green Men,' if the soft power fails."

"Little Green Men" is military jargon for irregular military operations such as those conducted by unmarked Russian forces in 2014 in Crimea, Ukraine, and 2008 in Georgia.

"We have also seen several planes closely associated with [Russia] flying in people and equipment for intelligence and surveillance operations targeting the opposition leadership," the official added.

"This is the first stage of propping up your dictator ally: Solidify control over state media. Then bolster intelligence gathering on who opposes you. Putin knows you can't arrest 100,000 people for demonstrating but he's convinced if you arrest the right 500 people, the other 100,000 won't show up."

Lukashenko has acknowledged receiving support from the Russian media outlet RT, which sent technicians and staff to keep Belarus' state-controlled media running, after many staff resigned in the aftermath of the recent election, which is widely regarded as having been manipulated in Lukashenko's favor.