The latest hysterics of the Belarusian authorities are caused by the awareness of the stalemate of the situation.
The Filin project discussed with Arseniy Sivitsky, director of the Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies, Lukashenka’s recent statements about “spies,” impending sanctions, and whether Moscow will facilitate the transit of power in Belarus.
Are loud statements about foreign agents another disconnection from reality or raising the stakes?
- Most likely, it is not that there is supposedly some kind of spy network inside enterprises, which reports on ways to bypass the sanctions by the Belarusian authorities, - the source said. - This is a completely new reality for the regime. Before the current crisis in relations with the West, the authorities had no experience of living under such economic pressure. Taking into account the rather tough sanctions pressure, which will expand, it becomes almost impossible to bypass it.
First of all, at the expense of the sanctions regimes themselves. Sectoral - from the EU, hybrid - from the United States. They do not directly imply any secondary action, but all Belarusian counterparties perceive them that way.
That is, these are sanctions, which in the future can be extended to partners of Belarus, with whom some kind of trade and economic interactions are being conducted.
Not to mention the fact that this entire supply chain is completely transparent to the financial intelligence of Western countries. Belarus mainly trades in dollars and euros, respectively, all transactions passing through transactions, even through various intermediaries, are absolutely transparent. There is no need for "spy networks" to report on something.
Therefore, I would say that these statements should be perceived as an awareness of the stalemate of the situation in which the regime finds itself.
There is no doubt that, in tightening the sanctions regime, Western countries are ready to reach "draconian" restrictions, which, in fact, imply an economic blockade of Belarus - if the authorities do not change the model of behavior in the international arena and within the country.
It will be very difficult to circumvent such sanctions, and, in the case of Belarus, it will be almost impossible. Not a single Belarusian partner, no matter western or eastern, will risk providing services to circumvent sanctions due to very high risks.
How will the speeches at the Helsinki Commission and the UN General Assembly affect the situation in Belarus? Many issues were raised there, for example, the migration crisis, human rights.
- It is unlikely that these verbal interventions can contribute to anything. I believe that the main factors in the issue of influencing the situation within the country and the behavior of the authorities are still two factors: the growing economic pressure emanating from the West, and the renewed political pressure from Russia over the transit of power.
I would say that Russia will play a major role in putting political pressure on Lukashenka, while the western side will apply economic pressure on Belarus.
Why will Russia play the first violin in the Belarusian crisis?
- Because there is a certain consensus, including in Western countries, that the Russian Federation has more levers of political pressure here. Moreover, the Kremlin signals that it is ready to provide certain services to resolve the political crisis in Belarus. But on their own terms and in the event that, as a result of the intervention, Russia's interests are respected by Europe and the United States.
This interference will be connected with the growing toxicity of the Belarusian "ally" for the Kremlin. Sanctions come into full force, American restrictions begin to work. They will expand and, at a certain stage, can very easily be extended to Russia for supporting Lukashenka.
Since the Kremlin does not want such a turn of events, it is trying to avoid new points of conflict in its relations with the West. This is due to the fact that Russia is preparing for the transit of power and needs a calm and predictable external environment. Therefore, the Russian Federation is selling its scenario of intervention in the internal affairs of Belarus to the West, which will accept the new conditions of the game, where our country will remain in the sphere of influence of Russia.
Europe does not dispute this, but the Kremlin is playing here on the terms of democratizing the political system.