#Belarus #Lukahsenko #BelarusProtests
Anna van Densky OPINION Today, on August 19, an extraordinary meeting of the Council of the EU on the situation in Belarus took place by teleconferencing.
The feeble answer has surprised many. The EU leaders have not pronounced the name of the genuine elections winner Svetlana Tikhanovskaya even once (!)While being so ardent about Ukraine integration into the bloc, why showing so little engagement towards dramatic events in Belarus?
First of all the context has entirely changed for the Europenan Union as an internationl organisation, transcending a profound systemic crisis itself. The bloc is in a difficult economic and financial situation because of the pandemic and because of the Brexit. The UK, the second largest contributor to the EU’s coffers, has left the organization and there is no trade agreement yet, and most likely will be none, which will create a considerable number of the economic problems in short, medium and long term.
At present the economy of Belarus is integrated into Russian and it is also orientated to the former Republics of the USSR, exporting there machinery. What is especially lucrative is the export of agricultural products to Russia, while it would be not easy to find the replacement for clients at the EU market, which has a surplus of agricultural products to an extend that the farmers receive funds not to produce, and not to develop the arable lands.
The dependency of Belarus on Russian hydrocarbons (Yamal gaz pipline) is a common place, and does not need any additional clarifications; the machinery, produced for former Republics either.
Regarding political transition to democracy from Lukashenko authoritarian rule, the major riddle is how to integrate the country into the EU politically, while it’s economic foundation is firmly intertwined with Russian Federation, and former Soviet bloc.
The defence issue is not less problematic: joining the CSTO, Belarus became a military ally of Russia. Certainly it can cancel the CSTO membership, but the maximum of what can be achieved afterwards from the army and the people is military neutrality. Due to its history, the country will opt for neutrality policy, since the people do not sympathise with NATO and, unlike Ukraine and Georgia, there has never been any talk of joining the North Atlantic Alliance for Belarus.
And here the geopolitical level of the issue is reached: there is no point in integrating a country into the EU which will not host military bases of the United States, and even less so joining the the North Atlantic Alliance. If the Belarussians keep Lukashenko in disdain, it does not mean that they are ready to join the “belt of infidelity” and serve Western interest, regarding Russia as a foe, as Ukrainians and Georgians are eagerly doing.
Taking into consideration mentioned above one should not expect active political support and financial assistance to Belarus from the EU similar the one they offer to Ukraine and Georgia.
A policy of sanctions against Lukashenko’s entourage has already been chosen by the EU, which is related to the policy of sanctions againstRussia and will be further harmonized with it. De facto, what looks like support to Belarussians will be an additional package of sanctions against Russian economy.
Subsequently further retention of Lukashenko in power by allies in Moscow is not only meaningless, but frankly detrimental to the economic interests of Russia, because they will be used by the West as a tool for expanding sanctions. Lukashenko life-long presidency will also significantly deteriorate image of Vladimir Putin in domestic politics, and deepening of the Belarussian crisis will have a negative impact on the entire range of Russian interests at home and abroad.
In their best interest Russians shouldn’t hold on to the political corpse of Lukashenko, but should arrange his swift and humble funeral and turn their attention to the other contemporary political players preferred by Belarus people:
“The king is dead! Long live the king!”.
Inauguration of incumbent President Lukashenko one more time will take place in two month, Russian TASS new agency reported. He has been Belarus authoritarian ruler for 26 years, who came to power as a “new type of leader” in last millenium and stayed due to his “clinch” with power for almost three decades, erasing smallest signs of dissent.