A developing proxy war in Eastern Europe?

JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP Russia’s moves on missile defense and its decision to back out of a key arms control treaty are understandably gobbling up most of the news space devoted to Eastern Europe. But keep an eye on relations between Poland and Belarus, which claims to have busted up a Polish spy ring: Belarus says it ...

By , a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies.
600570_070716_poland_05.jpg
600570_070716_poland_05.jpg

JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP

Russia's moves on missile defense and its decision to back out of a key arms control treaty are understandably gobbling up most of the news space devoted to Eastern Europe. But keep an eye on relations between Poland and Belarus, which claims to have busted up a Polish spy ring:

Belarus says it has smashed a spy ring which was passing information to Poland about a joint Belarussian-Russian air defence system, called the S-300. The head of the Belarus KGB security service, Dmitry Vegera, said four former Belarussian army officers and a Russian officer had been arrested.

JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP

Russia’s moves on missile defense and its decision to back out of a key arms control treaty are understandably gobbling up most of the news space devoted to Eastern Europe. But keep an eye on relations between Poland and Belarus, which claims to have busted up a Polish spy ring:

Belarus says it has smashed a spy ring which was passing information to Poland about a joint Belarussian-Russian air defence system, called the S-300. The head of the Belarus KGB security service, Dmitry Vegera, said four former Belarussian army officers and a Russian officer had been arrested.

The missile shield has clearly exacerbated relations between the two countries, but there are a host of other nettlesome issues. For months now, Poland has been broadcasting news into heavily-censored Belarus and accepting students who have been kicked out of Belarus’s universities for political reasons. In their attacks on the thuggish and unpredictable Belarussian president Alexander Lukashenko, Poles frequently invoke their own legacy of Solidarity. Why does this matter, you ask? Because Poland is a member of NATO, more serious unpleasantness between the neighbors could quickly become another crisis between Russia and the West. And then things would really get interesting.

David Bosco is a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. He is the author of The Poseidon Project: The Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans. Twitter: @multilateralist

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.