25 July 2021, Sunday, 20:57
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"Putin Realized That Lukashenka Should Not Be Left a Single Chance"

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"Putin Realized That Lukashenka Should Not Be Left a Single Chance"
Photo: GETTYIMAGES

The Kremlin will try to make sure that "critical circumstances" for the dictator come.

Yesterday, the Russian Ambassador to Belarus Yevgeny Lukyanov promised official Minsk full support in the situation with sanctions. “We will not abandon Belarus. We are allies. Allies do not betray each other. I’m not even talking about the fact that we are two fraternal Slavic peoples,” Lukyanov said.

The pledged assurances of allied allegiance contrast sharply with the information disseminated by Interfax: it turns out that, in the third quarter of 2021, no Russian oil supplies to the Naftan plant, which came under US sanctions, are envisaged. The factor of disinterested "Slavic brotherhood" probably did not work in this case. And there are serious doubts that it will work fully in relation to other sanctions cases, writes journalist Igor Ilyash in his telegram channel.

Against this background, Moscow's promises to lend a shoulder to the Lukashenka regime in its reckless confrontation with the West look more like incitement, provoking further escalation. Like, do not be afraid, we will cover you. Only now, no specific assistance in this "economic war" was offered to Lukashenka. It is interesting that the Russian ambassador also pointedly remarked that the situation could follow both an optimistic and a pessimistic scenario. And one can only guess what he meant in this case.

The Kremlin's policy towards Belarus is strategically short-sighted and irrational in many ways. Still, Moscow has drawn some correct conclusions from the experience of its coexistence with Lukashenka. Putin realized that Lukashenka should not be left with any chance of compromising with the West. Otherwise, Lukashenka will again try to convince the whole world that he is the only "guarantor of independence" of Belarus, allegedly holding back Russian expansion with his last bit of strength. By asking Putin in August 2020 to help him suppress peaceful protests, Lukashenka himself destroyed this myth. And now he is doing everything so that such a myth is never revived.

If, from the summer of 2015 to the summer of 2020, Lukashenka was selling in the West his "otherness" from Putin's Russia, now he is trying in every possible way to demonstrate unity with his "older brother." And he gladly plays along with him in Moscow. But the story of Russian oil supplies to Naftan demonstrates that there is no solid front against the Western democracies. Putin will help Lukashenka in his war with the West only to the extent that this assistance will help strengthen Russian positions in Belarus. And the higher the losses of the Lukashenka regime in this confrontation, the more chances Russia has to expand its influence.

It is characteristic that Russia is in no hurry to sign integration roadmaps. Why? Because every day Lukashenka is in power brings closer the moment when the integration will be carried out only and exclusively on the terms of the Kremlin. Putin's idea is that Lukashenka should capitulate to him, not as a result of Russian pressure, but because he simply has no other choice. The plan is, of course, risky, but quite realistic.

Ambassador Lukyanov, speaking of the sanctions, said: Moscow will support Minsk "until the most critical circumstances." What are these "critical circumstances" - he did not specify. But there is no doubt that the Kremlin will try to ensure that these "critical circumstances" come.