26 September 2020, Saturday, 11:58
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The Kremlin Got Lukashenka in the Game of Chicken, Economist Says

The Kremlin Got Lukashenka in the Game of Chicken, Economist Says
Leanid Zaika
Photo: onliner.by

Sechin in Minsk saw that the dictator was cornered.

Friday, February 21, Lukashenka said that Putin had made him "an unexpected oil proposal" during a telephone conversation.

Economist, head of the analytical center Strategy Leanid Zaika commented on the situation for Charter97.org.

- Peskov drew attention to the fact that "each side makes its calculations". Which of the voiced positions is closer to the truth: Russia will give Lukashenka $300 million at the expense of the Russian company bonus, or there will be no compensation for Belarus at the expense of the budget of Russia and its companies?

- There is no problem at all. And even the fact that husband of Budyonny's granddaughter (Dmitry Peskov - ed.) knows what is private and what is state-owned shows how simple this situation is.

Oil - or rather, an oil commodity - was bought by Belarus from private companies. The Russian government is not the owner of this commodity, which is produced, however, as a "national treasure". It is a ridiculous situation, so there will be no compensation from the Russian budget.

Lukashenka will not receive these $300 million. Peskov should have told it for Russians could know that these $300 million would not be taken away from teachers, doctors, and also officials. Although it's kopecks for Russian officials, they milk billions.

This is point one. I would say this is a theoretically literate position.

Point two. There is nothing strange that Putin called Lukashenka. Whom else should he call? Not Trump... The situation is purely Russian, KGB one. The suspect got in a game of chicken (guess you know who's the suspect and who's the investigator). They watched him reveal his plans, goals, safe houses, passwords. In general, they showed him in true colors. That is, Putin saw Lukashenka lashing, coming up with schemes and he will buy Russian oil anyway - only through Lithuanians, Poles, Finns, anyone.

There is nothing odd here for a specialist. Two Belarusian refineries were built for Russian oil, Belarus has never benefited from them economically. They were built to produce diesel fuel and gasoline for the Soviet army and then to conquer Europe. The Kremlin still keeps this goal in mind.

As for oil prices for Belarus: 300 million is a piece that Putin can give to both Sechin and other oligarchs. After all, what are Russian oligarchs good at? They bow to all orders of the head - their main "oligarch".

According to the latest events, one can imagine sizes and amounts they deal with. Now our good friends abroad have estimated the losses of Yukos shareholders at $50 billion. If it follows all international canons, Russia can be "nailed down" for this amount. Starting with the minor things - to delay a ship somewhere, to arrest real estate.

Against this background, $300 million is a trifle for oligarchs. By the way, the pollution of oil with chlorides in Druzhba pipeline is a private initiative. They will negotiate with Lukashenka. I am more surprised that Lukashenka, as the director of a collective farm, talked to Putin about all these issues. Someone told him that Putin is the master of all Russian mineral resources. He worked in the Committee for State Security and remained the owner of the resources.

That's why the measures taken by Putin are more or less literate: to calm the guy down for a year, to give him some money... By the way, I counted that the whole operation to load dirty oil cost Russia only 16 thousand dollars. If I worked for the CIA, I would consider it a success to do such a "beautiful" thing for Lukashenka, who threatened to stop the pipeline for repair works, for such small money. But Russian intelligence in return stopped all his plants, at the expense of this chloride additive.

Now there are finishing touches: no damage has been inflicted on the Russian budget and population. No damage has been inflicted on the Belarusian population that buys quite expensive gasoline. No damage has been inflicted on the consciousness of Belarusians who are being persuaded that Putin is a scoundrel who wants to kneel Belarusians with a salary of $200. Russian oligarchs can "forgive" a small amount of oil, about 20 million tons. It's a trifle for real Igor Dmitrievich Sechin. Putin and the Kremlin have simply shifted certain costs to them. This is how they act. He could also order them to raise money to fund of Wagner's private army. That money doesn't come from the Russian budget.

- All these statements were preceded by a mysterious visit of Rosneft head Igor Sechin to Minsk. No details are available either for the Belarusian or Russian media. What did Sechin bring for Lukashenka and what impact could it have on the further development of the oil dispute between Moscow and Minsk?

- I keep saying for 20 years that Comrade Lukashenka, prime ministers, stop playing around! Nobody needs your two refineries. Having no oil at all, you are hunting for a nonexistent bear and are dependent on Russia. What do you plan to do next? Do you think that Putin is an idiot and will tolerate you all the time?

I keep saying for 20 years to create an international corporation that includes Russian oil producers, pipelines, our factories. This will be the solution to all these problems for decades to come. Russia has not built a single refinery in all 30 years of "perestroika". Whom do you want to negotiate with? Of course, Sechin is the chief oilman. He even presented a thesis on oil transportation. Who did the same in Belarus on such topics? It's an irony. Sechin is a philologist by education.

A philologist from Moscow and a teacher from Shkloy met in Minsk. What do they discuss? Sechin came to learn whether it would be possible to achieve closer integration cooperation, at least in the oil sector? Sechin saw that Lukashenka was cornered and he had not yet reached the idea to establish an international oil corporation. He came to find out how far Lukashenka can be "moved aside"; where the limit of these issues lies. In general, Sechin saw that a "step-up" should be made.

Lukashenka has some maniacal idea of "sovereignty" based on him. Hermann Goering and Adolf Aloisovich had a similar idea... He does not understand what the national interests of Belarus are. Our national interests are to make Russia a raw-material appendage of Belarus. If Lukashenka had realized it, he would have acted differently.

- How will events on the "oil front" develop?

- If Lukashenka shows a certain ability to see prospects, he will listen to my advice. If he plays around, he will play the game of Putin again.

I don't envy him that he plays around every December 31 to get some oil out of him. It looks pitiful.