Igor Mintusov President of the European Association of Political Consultants
The migration crisis unfolding on the Belarusian-Polish border has once again actualized the problem of large political (we have not talked about economic for a long time) costs incurred by the Kremlin from an alliance with Lukashenko. On the one hand, the current events on the western borders of Belarus should worry us only at the level of "high concern" about what is happening. On the other hand, we are witnessing how Russia is again drawn into the conflict between Lukashenko and the EU. European leaders accuse Russia of aiding the Belarusian authorities and threaten to impose sanctions. Russia may have two motives for political support for Lukashenko's dangerous and provocative actions (from the point of view of the West).
First. By virtue of its geopolitical interests, Russia is doomed to support any actions of Lukashenko, whether Russia likes these actions or not. Second. Russia supports all actions of Lukashenko, because Lukashenko is implementing the geopolitical strategy of the union state.
Firstly, it increases the military-political tension on the borders of the union state, which is beneficial to the power elites and the military-industrial complex of Russia, and secondly, Russia is becoming an irreplaceable moderator in the negotiation process between Lukashenko and Europe. In other words, by influencing Europe through the president of Belarus, illegitimate from the point of view of Brussels, Russia creates problems for European states, which Russia can later solve. Or maybe not.
This suggests an analogy with Russia's policy towards the DPR and LPR in Ukraine. Russia does not plan to annex these Ukrainian territories. With the help of the DPR and LPR, Russia only wants to effectively influence the domestic and foreign policy of Ukraine.
How does the situation on the Belarusian-Polish border threaten Russia regardless of its motives for supporting Lukashenko? There is a real threat of being drawn into an armed conflict on the borders of the union state. Russia has security obligations to Belarus within the framework of the Union State and the CSTO. The preamble to the Treaty on the SG reads the following: “The Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus, guided by the will of the peoples of Russia and Belarus, taking care of the vital interests of their citizens; <…> Confirming <…> the desire to live in peace and good neighborliness with other states, we agreed…”.
After reading this formulation, one wonders: do the recent events in Belarus really correspond to the will of the people of Russia? Does cooperation with Lukashenko really contribute to social and economic progress in Russia? What are the prospects for the Union State? Why do we defend Lukashenko from time to time and hold on to him? Moscow's support today is actually the only component of Lukashenko's legitimacy in the international arena. In other words, Moscow remains a hostage to any actions of Lukashenko and is doomed to defend him in any foreign policy adventurous actions.
Or is Lukashenko an effective tool for implementing Russia's foreign policy strategy?
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