The impostor's entourage has suffered a very serious breach.
Anatoly Kotov, a former employee of Lukashenka's Administration and the NDC, who resigned at the height of last year's protests, told Charter97.org about the regime's main foreign policy failures in Belarus and the mood among officials.
- Recently, the Lukashenka regime has had a number of failures on the foreign policy front. In particular, the adventure on the border with the European Union. What interim results can you draw from the "campaign with migrants", and how did the story end for the Belarusian dictator?
- The campaign has failed. It is the most important result. Moreover, it resulted in the total foreign policy isolation of the regime. It was designed to get Western leaders to negotiate with Lukashenka and receive funding for the solution to the migration crisis. But Europe did not agree to it. It made Lukashenka furious. Poland did not let the migrants through on absolutely legal grounds. According to all international norms, they should stay in Belarus. After two calls from Merkel, Europe understood it was useless to talk to Lukashenka. Hence, the migration crisis on the Belarusian border is being solved with the Kremlin over the dictator's head. The Iraqi side is evacuating the migrants, again by their agreements with the European Union. The migrants, left on the territory of Belarus, turn into a headache for the very organizers of the crisis, with obscure prospects.
- For a long time, Lukashenka tried to play the game of "independence" and tried to avoid the Crimea topic. However, he stated in an interview with RIA Novosti that the annexed peninsula was "de facto and de jure" Russian. He also asked to go there. Why has the regime decided to play the "Crimea card" now? How does it change relations with Ukraine?
- Why now? They need money. They can promise Russia absolutely everything for it, uttering maximum bright theses beautiful to the Kremlin's ear and ensure some funding for the regime's needs. I do not know how relevant it is now, seven years later. It will soon be known what the Kremlin pay for such a statement. It is a fact that relations with Ukraine will deteriorate. So far, Kyiv has responded with extreme restraint, awaiting some recognition action. It is hard to say whether it will be Lukashenka's visit to Crimea or something else. But the statement itself is unambiguous now. It is driven by the fact that there is nowhere else to go, and money is urgently needed.
- The dictator has already announced twice that he is ready to cut off the transit to the EU countries, which is a concern for the Kremlin; China has also spoken out on the subject. To what extent do these actions make Lukashenka a toxic partner for Moscow and Beijing?
- He has been a toxic partner for quite a long time due to his unpredictability and irresponsibility. On the other hand, until it came to some such completely hysterical moves, everyone tolerated him as a necessary evil that ensured control over the territory of transit. Any action that would further worsen the transit issues would generally drive him more into a foreign policy stalemate. China and then Russia will increasingly take it not as a residual guarantor but as a threatening factor.
- Sanctions pressure on the regime is also intensifying. The EU has agreed on a new sanctions package; the US sanctions package comes into force on 8 December. Do you see a determination among Western countries to put really strong pressure on the regime?
- Lukashenka sees this determination. He has taken such strange steps with the plane, now with the migration crisis. It is the factor that destabilises all regional security. Of course, any such action will increase the degree of preparedness for an increasingly decisive response from the West. Now Minsk is pouring out extremely bellicose rhetoric; large-scale exercises are planned near the Belarusian-Ukrainian border. There are a number of his statements about war, martial law, state of emergency. Generally speaking, it does not bring the resolution of the Belarusian crisis closer. On the contrary, it will stimulate more serious activity in terms of intensification of the pressure on Lukashenka's regime from the West.
- As a person who has been working in the state apparatus for a long time, is the fact that Lukashenka has become a "lame duck" in the international arena a strong blow to the system? How does it affect the mood among officials?
- The status of a defeated man in the migration crisis affects more the sentiments of officials. Since law enforcers are not fools; they understand that "Akela missed his kill" here. The belief in some kind of actually animal instinct and "miracle" that was there before has received a very serious breach. Accordingly, it is unpleasant and does not add to the positive vibe. The disgruntled voices increasingly coming from the eastern side do not add to the confidence in the future.