«The brotherhood of nations»

«We are so used to pretend to the other, that in the end start to pretend to themselves» -Francois de La Rochefoucauld.

The official Kiev is increasingly beginning to resemble a small political Vesuvius starting from March 18... Emotional reaction of the Ukrainian leadership regarding the fact of the Crimea accession to Russia did not cause serious concern in the Russian political class. Moreover, a hurricane of threats and calls that hit Moscow from the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's National Security Council and the Government, was considered even with some sympathy, as this demonstrated that Kiev could not introduce any serious sanctions against Russia without the support of the EU and U.S.  That’s the reason of such controversial proposals. However, it should be noted that Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk tried to disavow some of them a few hours later:

- Visa regime with Russia;

- Ukraine's withdrawal from the CIS, which in turn will lead to withdrawal of the republic from the CIS free trade zone with all the negative consequences for Ukrainian exports on Russian, Kazakh, Belarusian and other markets of former Soviet Union;

- Declaration on the return of Ukraine's nuclear status (absolute fantasy), by the way, if the Ukrainian government will suddenly decide to produce nuclear ammunition, the Budapest protocol, which is so beloved in Kiev, will completely lost any meaning.

These proposals of the Ukrainian National Security Council will bring huge internal costs for Ukraine.

First of all, Kiev's proposal to impose visa regime with Russia will increasingly hit the citizens of Ukraine rather than the residents of «Muscovy». However, it should be noted that visa regime with Russia will give the Ukrainian leadership certain advantage.

It is worth recalling that the considerable part of Russian tourists comes to the Crimea via Ukrainian rail and roads. Passenger traffic of Simferopol airport is limited. And construction of a universal bridge across the Kerch Strait has not even begun. So, introduction of visa regime will necessarily break up summer season in Crimea. No doubt, this fact will have a negative impact on the mood of the local population.

But do not forget that the Russians go to the Crimea and in Ukraine to spend money, and the Ukrainian citizens are travelling to Russia to earn money. According to the different estimates, about 4-8 million Ukrainian migrant workers are working in Russia now. Some of these people already have a family. Visa «barrier» will have extremely negative effect on the fate of these people.

However, if the visa regime is introduced, the considerable part of migrant workers and their families will lose the job. No doubt, Russian Federal migration service will issue visas first of all to the residents of Eastern and south-Eastern regions of Ukraine.

Ukrainian government has the last hope - widely advertised EU and the United States sanctions against Russia and Brussels’ desire to hold negotiations between Moscow and Kiev.

Dialogue

It is clear that the beginning of a direct dialogue between Moscow and Kiev will give the Ukrainian side possibility to say that Russia is recognizing the Ukrainian government. This will immediately raise the Crimean issue in the format of annexation. However, it is worth recalling that Kiev carefully maintains diplomatic relations with Moscow, but, at the same time is loudly informing the world about «Russian aggression».

It is clear that if the Russian-Ukrainian dialogue started, it would be accompanied by a mass of financial claims. It is worth recalling that to date Ukraine has not received from the West a single dollar or Euro. Instead of much needed financial assistance, the EU signed with Kiev political part of the Association Agreement with the EU. The flag of the European Union was raised in Kiev; the country's population is waiting for «the European lifestyle», the more that Brussels opened the European market for Ukrainian products. It remains to produce a product that would be relevant to the European market, as up to the present day Ukraine's exports was mainly focused on the Russian, Turkish and Middle Eastern markets. For stable exports to European markets Ukraine needs modernization of production, money and time. Only Russia can give Kiev so much needed time.

West tries to return Ukraine in a complex system of foreign balance, which allows counting on support from the West and the East. But Kiev betrayed Brussels once again: Alexander Turchynov said that the return of the Crimea is the main condition for negotiations with Moscow.

It is interesting that the Belarusian leadership is doing practically the same. Alexander Lukashenko said on March 23 that Belarus will be with «fraternal nations - Russia, Ukraine and others». (http://newsru.com/world/23mar2014/lukashenko.html). Alexander Lukashenko urgently needs the status of international mediator.

Crimean test

The real position of the official Minsk regarding the Crimean problem was not a secret until March 23, as it was announced in the materials of the Belarusian state media, documents and statements of the Foreign Ministry and Alexander Lukashenko.

Official Minsk had a few tasks in the light of the starting conflict: avoid participation in the Russian- Ukrainian conflict, not to recognize the referendum in the Crimea, to keep the whole complex of relations with the new Ukrainian leadership.

There were and additional tasks: use the reduction of the Russian- Ukrainian trade in order to occupy new «niches» in the Ukrainian market, use Russia in order to enter the economy of Crimea.

All these plans had to be masked by complex diplomatic and propaganda «dance» in different «sites». But the question arises: Why did Alexander Lukashenko need all this? Is it possible to speak honestly and directly?

Threat

The first threat is in the head of the Belarusian state. Like any Eastern European ruler, he lives in a kind of coordinate system, where the US to a greater extent and the EU, to a lesser, are perceived quite sacred, as a kind of reference point of the world economy and politics. All Eastern European elites and political classes are downing before the military and economic power of Washington and Brussels.

Belarusian president was convinced that Moscow's desire to solve the Crimean problem was a gamble, and finally, Russia would be thrown away from the peninsula under the pressure of the U.S. and EU. Sanctions should bring down the Russian economy. Alexander Lukashenko believed that he had to save the republic, and of course, his power from unconditional defeat of Russia.

The second threat was connected with a purely intuitive feeling that the old «good» CIS has disappeared. EU is trying to «intercept» the Region from the West, China from the south-east, and Russia begins the «audit» of 1991 in the center. Alexander Lukashenko said on March 23 that the Ukrainian authorities are responsible for such a tragic event in the Crimea - «They say that Russia «snatched» Crimea. So you, politicians, be not substituted». We can agree with this. By the way, if the country has the regions with predominance of national minorities, and in capacity as the real indigenous inhabitants, this requires national authorities to conduct extremely effective and prudent economic and national policies. Ukraine did not even try ... As a result, Ukrainian authorities«сock-up»...

Of course a question arises: will Alexander Lukashenko be able to solve this problem himself? In this case there is no question about the Russian community in Belarus, as Russian population is not dominating in any of the regions of Belarus. Crimean variant is impossible in Belarus.

But there is another problem: when the Soviet Union collapsed, no one in Belarus had doubt that the future of the republic would be fine, the country would have the status of the new Eastern European Switzerland, where the standard of living would be much higher than in Russia. However, hundreds of thousands of Belarusian migrant workers are looking for earning in Russia today.

No illusions. The Belarusian economy and the Belarusian army are in worse conditions than in Ukraine. The country lives from one Russian loan to another. Now the official Minsk hysterically demands Russia to abolish export duties ($ 3.5 billion). Otherwise the country will not survive...

Third threat is just connected with “amount involved”: Belarusian ruler had to somehow react to the Crimea joining to Russia, as his numerous opponents in Moscow could remind the Russian public about the betrayal of Russia in 2008-2009. It would be counterproductive to hope that the Kremlin would forgive Alexander Lukashenko’s attempt to sit in the bushes after the deployment of several Russian aviation connections on the territory of Belarus. The sovereignty of Belarus would not last a month without Russian gas, oil, market and credits.

The time has come

All past week official Minsk was closely following the unfolding confrontation between Russia and the European Union and the United States, and waiting for the tsunami of political and economic sanctions against Moscow. But this did not happen… It became clear that Russia has born a blow. It’s useless to argue with Russia, and even dangerous. It's time to stand on the winner's side, and do not forget to kick the losers (in this case the West, which, according to Alexander Lukashenko, "could not do anything.")

Finally, on March 23 Alexander Lukashenko was forced somehow clearly comment on the situation regarding the Crimea: http://newsru.com/world/23mar2014/lukashenko.html . In fairness, it should be noted that the Belarusian president had one of his best press conferences last Sunday, but in his own style - by connecting the unconnected. However, despite the striking rhetoric, everything was confused, frightened and “disgusting”.

Alexander Lukashenko has "de facto" recognized accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation, but said nothing about the referendum, in other words ignored the main issue again, which is now being discussed on the global stage - the legitimacy of the referendum in the Crimea, as a condition for the return of the Crimea in Russia. Alexander Lukashenko generally rejected all legal Issues.

The only thing that the Belarusian president has done, following the example of Kazakhstan – expressed “understanding” of Russia's actions , but also said that Ukraine should remain an integral state and immediately tried to “warn” Moscow:  “No one should be allowed to tear apart this country” ( this position almost coincides with the European).

On the one hand, the head of Belarus recalled the atrocities of Bandera, but immediately began furiously to prove the right of Minsk on contacts and recognition of Bandera government in Kiev, in other words, namely that the European Union and wanted from Russia.

Speaking about his future meeting with some “politicians” from Kiev, the Belarusian president is not just asking to be a mediator, but literally imposes his services to Moscow. No doubt, Moscow does not need such services. But Alexander Lukashenko immediately announces his alliance with Russia and that he will always be with Moscow in a critical situation. But he will meet with Moscow’s sworn enemies. Why? Who asked him to do this? In any case, it was not Moscow. Maybe it was the idea of Vladimir Makey?

Such contradictory statements of the Belarusian president say that Minsk is trying to maneuver, and the Alexander Lukashenko is trying to switch between the West and the East.

As a result, Alexander Lukashenko continued his foreign “slalom”: the referendum in the Crimea was not recognized, and the government in Kiev was actually recognized, Belarus is in the "bushes” and simultaneously “supports Russia”, etc. But in general, the Belarusian president supports "the brotherhood of nations”...

А. Suzdaltsev, Moscow, 23.03.14

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