6 April 2020, Monday, 13:57
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Lukashenka’s Trapped, Or Don’t Play With The Empire

Lukashenka’s Trapped, Or Don’t Play With The Empire

There are two mistakes of the Belarusian dictator.

Did the Kremlin almost finish with it? Approaches of Moscow and Minsk in the matter of "integration" have become 90% similar, Russian Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin says. A few weeks ago, Belarusian Prime Minister Siarhei Rumas said that the so-called deepening of integration had reached 70%.

Oreshkin stresses that the discussion is held strictly within the framework of the Union Treaty, signed in 1999. But the trick is that young Aliaksandr Lukashenka signed the document, which still jeopardizes Belarus' loss of sovereignty.

Gossips say that ambitious "Slavic knight" Lukashenka wanted the post of an old and sick Boris Yeltsin. But it was seized by tenacious Vladimir Putin, who started to speed up the issue of an elegant takeover of Belarus under the brand of "brotherly unity".

Thus, Belarus found itself in a trap with the leader. However, the first attacks of the Kremlin were repealed by Lukashenka in the past decade. He fought off a single currency by hook or by crook. He told journalists that he was not going to go to the Kremlin to get a salary.

You don't want to? Then go without money

But that's what Moscow seems to want to force him now. The Belarusian bosses keep silent, like partisans at an interrogation, about the specifics of the talks. But Moscow leaders are more talkative. Last Friday, the head of the Central Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina, confirmed that negotiations with Belarus on a single currency were ongoing (she mentioned their initial stage).

At the same time, it is clear that it concerns the transition to the Russian ruble. After that, the takeover of the Belarusian economy ( which makes up only a few percents of the Russian one), and then the whole country will be the matter of technology.

It is much harder to fight back now. Earlier, Moscow used to remind us that it would not be a sin to finish with the Union State, but it kept generously supporting the Belarusian economy. And now the answer's a lemon! It refused to compensate for consequences of the tax manoeuvre in its oil industry (and it threatens the Belarusian budget with losses of almost $11 billion until 2024), suspended the promised loans, gives incomplete information about the gas price for 2020, catches at the Belarusian foodstuffs, etc.

In short, the question is put bluntly: either advanced integration or go without money.

Two mistakes of the Belarusian ruler

Lukashenka's first mistake is that he expected to outsmart the empire by playing "brotherly integration". But the era of "oil for kisses" is over. The empire has decided to struggle to its feet, showed its claws in Georgia and Ukraine, and now it's the turn of Minsk.

The second mistake of Lukashenka is his hopes to somehow resolve the situation with Putin without reforming or involving the people.

But the Belarusian economy, not reformed and increasingly addicted to resources and the Russian market, will weaken. It means that the level of resistance to the Kremlin's pressure will also fade away. No spiritual guarantees of independence are affordable without a strong political class and a powerful, nationally conscious civil society.

However, Lukashenka, who is in power in Belarus for twenty five years, is apparently afraid to authorise reforms and loosen screws in the socio-political sphere. After all, the foundations of personal power can be undermined. So, to drag and not to let in. Appointing the new Minister of Internal Affairs last week, the ruler gave an eloquent order: "Whoever deserves the stick, must get it.

At the turn of the 1990s, the Baltic States used a historic opportunity to break away from the empire. Yes, they are far from heaven on earth, but salaries there are several times higher than those in Belarus. Moscow can't blackmail these EU and NATO states with a plug anymore.

In the Belarusian case, the loop is tight, and the Kremlin is not in a hurry. There are no tanks and men with no insignia. It is polite. Do you remember the paper, signed at the end of the last millennium? Will we approach or will you act outraged?

There is no "brotherly integration" with the empire. If you give your little finger, it will bite your hand off.

Aliaksandr Klaskouski, belsat.eu