Life provided me very important lesson: the one who once betrayed you, would betray you again in a difficult moment. (Donald Trump)
Information war between Russia and Ukraine is developing into more and more fantastic forms. Information events, created by both sides during the escalation of the conflict, are becoming more acute and short-lived. For example, on March 7 the Ukrainian and then the Belarusian opposition media paraphrased the words of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations V. Churkin that Russia broke off diplomatic relations with Ukraine. Journalists were not confused by the fact that such a decision would be announced to the world at least by the Russian Foreign Minister.
Of course, Russian Foreign Ministry denied this information a few hours later. However, many Ukrainian and European media ignored this fact (http://lenta.ru/news/2014/03/07/churkin/). By the way, Russian diplomats continue their work in Kiev at Vozduhoflotsky Avenue under the protection of the Maidan Samooborona (self-defence).
However, this information provocation was still relatively useful as it raised the «curtain», which hid the negative scenario of the Russian- Ukrainian crisis, which in its turn was a logical continuation of the change of power in Kiev and the fierce conflict between the regions of Ukraine.
The problem is that to date there are no positive signs that allow to hope for a gradual extinction of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Tensions between Kiev and Moscow continue to grow on a background of the referendum in the Crimea. This really allows to predict the possible severance of diplomatic relations, as well as the introduction of Russian visas for Ukrainian citizens.
It is worth recalling that more than 4 million citizens of Ukraine, mostly residents of its western regions, have found a job in Russia. Introduction of the visa regime for many of these people and their families can be catastrophic. As a result, they can request for a refugee status or even take Russian citizenship. But the considerable part of Ukrainian migrant workers, who will not be able to get Russian visa, will look for an alternative way to get the territory of Russia. And here comes Belarus.
It is worth recalling that a paradoxical situation in the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia was formed after 2008. One part of the Union State participated in the Georgian - South Ossetian conflict, its «blue helmets» were simply cut out by Georgian troops, it recognized the new Transcaucasian states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and broke off the diplomatic relations with Georgia. At the same time the other part of the Union State did not support its «ally», promised, but did not recognize the independence of Sukhumi and Tskhinvali, maintained diplomatic relations with Georgia and turned its territory into a transhipment base of Georgians to Russia.
Belarus' accession to the European program «Eastern Partnership» in May 2009 (in due time the process of Ukraine's accession to the Association with the European Union has started from this moment), was a shining example of Belarusian policy of «alliance» with Russia.
Remake of «Paths of Lukashenko» on the territory of Belarus, only this time for the citizens of Ukraine, is not a fantasy. «Trail» on the territory of Belarus has already begun its work due to the unstable situation at Ukrainian-Russian border checkpoint…
Minsk does not want to perform its foreign obligations in the framework of the Union Treaty. This is the traditional policy of the Belarusian authorities and not a secret for Moscow. In due time, the result of months-long dialogue on recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia fully demonstrated consumer and dependency basis of the Belarusian «alliance» with Russia.
At a meeting with Russian journalists on October 11, 2013, Alexander Lukashenko tried to close this issue, that still poisoned the Russian-Belarusian relations: «If we recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia will be inflamed, the countries that have territorial disputes will be inflamed, the West will get involved. Does Russia need that? Thank god, we are past it already, we are not going to be the catalyst of an unnecessary trend. What for?... The recognition would have gained little for us while we would have been dropped through the bottom and would have seen no prospects at all. If Russia had taken care of the risks, I would have signed the decree right away. But I didn’t hear the right answer… If it was a life and death issue for Russia, then there would be no arguments. But it is not a life and death issue»http://www.regnum.ru/news/1718878.html.
It is worth recalling that immediately after August 2008, when the whole world described Russia as an aggressor against a small and very peaceful Georgia, the problem of support from allies was very pressing for Moscow, actually «on the brink of life and death». But the Kremlin refused to pay for the alliance, judging that mercenaries were not needed.
However, it was possible to accept the position of «paid cooperation» even in this format, as Belarus was a small and poor country. But Alexander Lukashenko started to earn points on the Russian- Georgian conflict immediately. He kept non - visa regime with Georgia, expanded economic cooperation with Tbilisi and even met with war criminal Saakashvili, on whose orders Russian peacekeepers were killed.
At the same time, in 2009-2010 Alexander Lukashenko faced global economic crisis and literally begged the Kremlin, demanding to provide assistance to the «only ally». In 2011, when the republic's economy was on the brink of collapse, the Belarusian president used the allied status as a basis for the ACF EAEC (Eurasian Economic Community Crisis Fund) loan.
In the bushes…
But on the other hand, Russian foreign policy in 2008, and in 2014 does not cause enthusiasm in the Belarusian state and, especially, the opposition media. The authorities are silent or speak about some provocations, and the opposition media report about Russian aggression in Ukraine and traditionally appeal to the U.S. and Europe.
As it was already noted in previous articles, in fact, Belarusian television did not report about Russian- Ukrainian crisis during the last weeks. It seems that Belarus has nothing to do with this conflict. Here we saw very «timely» publications. In particular, the Belarusian state-owned newspaper «7 Dnei» has published the article «Geopolitics and games» (http://7dney.by/ru/issues?art_id=2217), of well-known propagandist - international relations expert (?). The author developed the main political formula, which is used by the Belarusian leadership today: «do not allow yourself to play the strange games, as it happened in Ukraine».
Right, let Russia (partner of Belarus in the Union State) «struggle» alone and Minsk, according to Chinese tradition, will sit in the bushes on the mountain, watching the fight of two tigers in the valley. «A coward will always find an excuse for a treason» (D. Volkogonov).
And it would be understandable if the Belarusian media space was not full of completely unusual, but only at first glance, stove piping. In particular, in a program «Position» of well-known Belarusian journalist Vadim Gigin on March 3, it was said that the status of Bandera in modern Ukraine was so high that Belarusians need to respect the feelings of their south neighbors, but separatism in eastern Ukraine and the Crimea, where Stepan Bandera was not very respected, was unacceptable, as well as interference of Russia in the affairs of sovereign Ukraine.
In general, Bandera is holy, and if Russian, who are living in Crimea, do not want to accept this fact, then it will be worse for them. It should be noted that a documentary film, directed by Dumbadze, was showed prior to the program «Position». The film presented modern Banderovite as a true spokesman of «Ukrainian ideas». In general, Banderovites, who once burned Belarusian village Hatyn, are innocent as they acted under constraint.
Apparently, someday the Belarusian TV will suddenly «discover» that Hatyn was burned by Belarusian partisans or even a special squad of saboteurs of the Red Army ... It is clear that in such a way Alexander Lukashenko is trying to build bridges with Banderovite Kiev.
However, it was necessary somehow explain the latest change of foreign policy of the Belarusian authorities not only to Moscow, but also the population of their own country. People understand that as a result the Belarusian president will certainly «play» with Russian, Banderovites, Europeans and etc. This will ultimately lead to an economic collapse in the country, as it is unlikely that the United States and the European Union will help the government of Alexander Lukashenko. Especially, if we take into account the fact that even the government of Yatsenyuk still has no receive money from Washington and Brussels.
In this regard, it is worth to note the results of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting, which was held in Moscow on March 5. Alexander Lukashenko believed it was a favorable geopolitical background and demanded from Russia duty-free oil by formula «oil in exchange for the Eurasian Economic Union». However, he left with nothing… In fairness, A. Lukashenko does not get upset, as he is sure that Russia urgently needs support of Belarus today.
It is clear that Alexander Lukashenko has sincere desire to repeat the fate of Viktor Yanukovych in order to sit at two geopolitical «chairs» at the same time, but avoid hard conflicts. But it is extremely difficult for the modern Belarusian state to ignore the formal «ally» because of the Union Treaty.
Any international agreement is like a stick with two ends. For many years the Belarusian side used the Union State as a formal sign of alliance, which allowed to insist on financial and resource subsidies from Russia almost legally. Often, the existence of the Union State allowed Belarusian side to use it as «the last argument».
It is worth recalling that during the last meeting between Vladislav Baumgertner and Mikhail Myasnikovich, Belarusian Prime Minister «frightened» Uralkali CEO with a damage caused by the Russian company to the Union State (!).
It would be wrong not to recall the «social package» of the Union State, which allows Belarusian migrant workers do not feel themselves foreigners in Russia. In general, Minsk remembers about the Union State when it wants to suck the advantage out of this project, and when the foreign policy situation around Russia is heating up, the Belarusian authorities somehow quickly forget about their Union obligations.
Meanwhile, the Union State - is not only a domestic oil prices (Belarus already has such access to Russian oil) and the cheapest natural gas on the continent, but also several important military and political agreements, which make a s base of a unified military force, as well as unified regional air defense system of Russia and Belarus and the Belarusian border status as the Union State border ( there is no state border between Belarus and Russia).
Russian military bases are deployed in Belarus. One base has a militant character since last December – а unit of Russian fighters appeared in the Belarusian sky.
Simply said, military strategic cooperation is the base of the Belarusian-Russian alliance. This is understandable, as security issues are the key in interstate relations. It is worth noting that NATO membership preceded the accession of any country of Central Europe to the European Union.
In this case, the question arises: what will the Belarusian leadership do with a military alliance with Russia if the situation in the Russian - Ukrainian conflict gets out of control?
Beat «ally» in the back, put explosives in the planes, blow up the railroad tracks and bridges or defiantly withdraw from the Union State ? In any case, the possible, but not mandatory escalation of the Russian- Ukrainian crisis can be a real test for the stronghold of Union agreements between Moscow and Minsk.
What is to be done?
Alexander Lukashenko, as always, will try to benefit from a neighbor's conflict. It is clear that, taking into consideration the objective reduction of Russian-Ukrainian trade turnover, Belarusian producers will rush to occupy the vacated niches in the Ukrainian market. Belarusian petrochemical companies are expecting to increase not only the deliveries of Belarusian oil products to the south, but also, apparently, Russian crude oil. As mentioned above, there is hope and on transit.
But the risks of such foray are huge. Fire at the southern borders may spill over «the fence» and the fate of Viktor Yanukovych may seem a sweet dream for Alexander Lukashenko. Therefore, in theory, the Belarusian authorities should take a number of mutually antithetical actions in order to, on the one hand to legitimize another refusal of the official Minsk to perform «allied duty», and the other hand to receive bonuses form all sides of conflict.
First of all, Minsk should submit to the Russian leadership a number of reasons of its absence in one geopolitical «trench» with the Russians. In this case it would be necessary to demand the Kremlin too heavy price list for «allied services», as it was in 2008-2009, and provided evidence that Belarusians did not support Russian policy in Ukraine in general and in particular in the Crimea. Here the authorities really need activity of the Belarusian opposition (see below).
Secondly, Minsk should have a room for maneuver in order to present A. Lukashenko in happy hour in the role of «the most objective and unbiased person, who is standing above the fray», «fighter for Slavic unity».
Do not forget that if Putin remained silent after the change of power in Kiev and had ignored the mood in the Crimea and in the south-east of Ukraine, the same Alexander Lukashenko certainly would try to lead the protest moods in Russia, as the country would not understand such weakness of its President.
Belarusian president has repeatedly criticized Moscow and Vladimir Putin personally for «lack of determination». Here, for example, what he said in an interview with radio station «Echo of Moscow» on February 25, 2007: «And what is it Russia? And where it goes? And what does it want? And with whom is it?». And reproachfully after Yugoslavia: «Starting from Slobodan, whom I met during the war, who cried with tears, saying: why Russia did not support us. What else could we do ... I repeatedly talked about this with Yeltsin. Russia is too weak to resist the NATO aggression in Yugoslavia. Yes, they were scared by one battalion, which conducted this operation. And if two or three ships entered there, and if Russia somehow acted. It was not true that Russia was weak. They simply refused from Yugoslavia, bases in Cuba, Kamran. And the world sees it. (http://za.zubr.in.ua/2007/02/25/833/)
It is worth noting that the world is seeing another picture. It is clear that in Russia there are many «warriors», who are ready to build their empire by means of the lives of Russian guys. But taking into account the recent military rhetoric of Alexander Lukashenko, in theory, he should have been in the forefront of the struggle for the Russian Crimea. However, as the situation developed, the Belarusian president, as in 2008, disappeared from the TV screen.
Thirdly, Belarusian side wants to draw the curtain over the question of the implementation of allied duty. This process was already launched. In particular, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makey said on March 5: «Speaking about the events in the Crimea, it should be studied in details and more carefully. I'm not ready to give any radical estimates of the intervention of certain forces in these internal processes. We would not like Ukraine to go the way of Yugoslavia like it happened in the Balkans in its time» - he added.
It's clear that today the Belarusian parliament will be involved in this process as it happened in 2008. Endless delegations will head to the Crimea. This process will continue for at least two or three years. And there, maybe, the crisis will be resolved...
Today the official Minsk believes that there is still time and it is necessary to dissociate itself from the policy of Russia in the Crimea. In this regard, the Belarusian authorities urgently need the support of the Belarusian opposition, which is completely anti-Russian. All opposition media are the voice of the Ukrainian propaganda now and criticism of the Lukashenko regime has completely disappeared from the opposition media space.
Anti-Russian propaganda of Belarusian opposition is understandable, as the formal opponents of the Belarusian president have always considered themselves first of all fighters against Russia. Lukashenko was in the middle distance. No doubt, if Alexander Lukashenko formed his authoritarian regime on anti-Russian platform, like for example, Yulia Tymoshenko, there would be no opposition (at least the way it exists in Belarus now) at all.
The Belarusian opposition has always come to the aid of Alexander Lukashenko when his relations with Moscow came to the state of crisis (fall 2010) or were in question (as it is today).
Frame in the wardrobe
However, it should be noted that there is a certain logic in the actions of opposition against Russia. The fact is that Belarus has its own Crimea. Stalin handed over Bialystok region of BSSR to Poland in 1944, together with the prevailing there Belarusian orthodox population.
For 70 years (September 20, 2014 will be the seventieth anniversary of this event) polonisation processes took place in the region, and Belarusians in the former Bialystok region, divided now into three regions, are ethnic and religious minority today.
Nikita Khrushchev – successor of Stalin, handed over Crimea to Ukraine (together with the overwhelming Russian population). He believed this was normal as all people lived in one country and had a Soviet passport. After the USSR collapse, Ukraine has not returned a gift of the Soviet leader and brought the peninsula to complete ruin for twenty-three years. In general, something strange is happening with the elites of Central and Eastern Europe. They are ready to curse the Soviet Union all day and night, but do not want to refuse from the gifts of the Soviet Union.
Difficult to imagine how the bankrupt government can keep the region in its hands, if there, in Russia, where the same Russians are living, standard of life is above three times. It is clear that there is a spiritual liaison, but the fact is that in the case of the Crimea joining Russia, we'll see two-fold pension and four-fold salaries of state employees increase.
Of course, the Belarusian political class will never try to demand Poland to return illegal Stalin's gift… Instead of this, opposition will draw a protest of the Belarusian people against Russia's actions in the Crimea and create an indulgence for Lukashenko in Moscow.
It seems that the Belarusian authorities will not ban opposition street actions today, including Freedom Day rally. No doubt, these actions will have a hard anti-Russian context and it will be the best excuse of Alexander Lukashenko before Vladimir Putin.
In the end, it turns out that the Belarusian opposition is the best and the surest ally of Alexander Lukashenko. The only question is about balance now. Alexander Lukashenko tries to explain that he can not perform allied duty because of the moods in the Belarusian society and the Belarusian opposition, which has become powerful in a few moments. However, such attempts may lead the Belarusian president to the opposite result. Indeed, why did the Kremlin need such a weak ally? One Russian «ally» has already used Maidan in order to demand money from Moscow ... He ended his political career sadly, but traditionally ...
А. Suzdaltsev, Moscow, 09.03.14