18 April 2021, Sunday, 5:12
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Sochi “Secrets”: Lukashenka’s Positions Are Especially Weak

Sochi “Secrets”: Lukashenka’s Positions Are Especially Weak
Photo: Nasha Niva

There comes a prosperous moment for the Belarusian people to finally remove the illegitimate.

Lukashenka has lifted the veil of secrecy around recent talks with Putin. It is quite obvious that the trip to Sochi was a failure, writes the Belarusian Donbas telegram channel.

1) Lukashenka's loyalist rhetoric, which he used during the ABA (All-Belarusian Assembly), did not impress Putin. He did not grant Lukashenka new loans, set his refusal in a very categorical way. As a result, Lukashenka has to say he did not ask for any money in Sochi, and "we do not need it". Well, well.

2) Putin seems to have made it clear to Lukashenka that he can count on economic donations only in case of deeper integration in all directions. We are talking about Medvedev's "ultimatum" of late 2018-early 2020. However, the current situation has two fundamental differences.

First, Lukashenka has no room for manoeuvre. The internal political and economic situation, as well as the international situation of the regime, is much worse than it was a year ago. Second, the military cooperation issues, which did not exist during Medvedev's "ultimatum," are put first now.

3) Lukashenka admitted that the topic of defence cooperation was the most extensive during the talks in Sochi. Judging by his statements, they discussed a considerable expansion of the Russian military presence in Belarus.

The Kremlin wants to deploy a Russian airbase in Belarus, while Lukashenka tries to persuade Moscow to cap to already deployed Russian aviation on Belarusian airfields. He gave an example: it was in the spring of 2014. Although, Lukashenka failed to mention the context: the deployment of Russian planes to Belarus was directly related to Putin's aggression against Ukraine. At the height of the Russian invasion of Crimea, Lukashenka publicly asked the Russian General Staff to send "12-15 planes to Belarus for additional patrols" due to the worsening situation in the region.

The bloc of defence issues is now clearly beyond the Russian airbase issue. Lukashenka says that "the Russian army is one of the strongest in the world, and Belarusian servicemen could learn advanced combat techniques and test the latest weapons together with the Russian military".

How can they further adopt "advanced techniques" when Belarus and Russia hold regular military exercises and have a joint regional grouping of troops?

4) Most of the media fell for the bait of Lukashenka: he stated that the entry of Belarus into the Russian Federation was stupid and unnecessary. However, the key phrase was: "Existing as a sovereign independent state, we can build such a system of relations that this system will be more powerful than the relations between separate territories in the Russian Federation". In other words, we are talking about preserving de jure independence but the de facto sovereignty of Belarus may remain even less than that of some subjects of the Russian Federation.

Presumably, Putin and Lukashenka have agreed not to raise the questions of purely political integration (single parliament, constitution, etc.) not to agitate the society. At this stage, it considers the economic and military spheres. It's quite a reasonable decision on the part of the Kremlin, given the complete illegitimacy of Lukashenka.

5) Despite all this, one should understand that everything that Lukashenka and Putin agreed upon in Sochi may remain just rhetoric. Dictators do not tend to keep their word and keep their promises. The mutual deception is the ground for the "union state".

Meanwhile, Lukashenka's position at the negotiations has never been so weak.

In the interview to Charter97.org, the coordinator of the European Belarus civil campaign Dzmitry Bandarenka said two months of mass protests with strikes were enough in the current conditions to "finally break the back of Lukashenka's regime".