February 19, 2020
Russians have a proverb – ‘Mend your sails while the weather is fine’, this means that success of the business largely depends on preparation for it. It seems that the Russian president is far from disregarding this conventional wisdom especially given the fact that he has a power over a huge and resourceful state in his hands and he needs to retain it in the times of aggravating crisis. Therefore, the country leaders often use mythical threat from the outside as mobilization strategy. Despite of the record votes gained by Putin following spring 2018 elections, people’s dissatisfaction with his domestic policy grows proportionally to exaggerating of economic and social problems: fall of manufacturing, rapid tax growth, unpopular pension reform, restriction of civil liberties, abrupt fall of people’s income etc. Still there is a little cause for optimism, even despite of a tendency towards increase of oil prices, which is the main resource fundamental for the Russian economy for many years. Kremlin realizes that only success beyond the state may distract people’s attention and boost state leader’s rating. It is proven by Russians’ response to annexation of the Crimea in 2014, when Putin’s rating skyrocketed (86%). However, Kremlin is aware that today a “small victorious war” abroad bears certain risks especially for the state, which has already got bogged down in East Ukraine and Syria facing sanctions and international isolation. Authorities decides to act quietly and, whenever possible, using non-military methods. Present Kremlin’s rhetoric suggests the conclusion that Belarus will become the next candidate for Russia’s “foreign policy success”. For a long time, its independence from Russia has been nominal. Though both states exist within association named the ‘Union State’, Belarus depends on Russia economically, in particular, in supply of the Russian oil (at below market price), which makes one of the sources of budget income after its processing and reselling to the foreign markets. As a result, Lukashenko is bound to correlate his internal and foreign policy with Moscow. While the Belarusian President affords criticism towards the Russian authorities from time to time, he always supports Kremlin’s actions in the international field. Resonance UN votes on issues disputable for Russia may serve as a prove as far as the Belarusian delegation has always taken the part of Moscow. Quite recently, in the middle of December, 2018, the Russian Prime Minister Medvedev demanded from the Belarusian leadership in rigid, almost categorical manner strengthening of “integration” between two states. Referring to the treaty on the ‘Union State’, the head of the Russian government declared the beginning of the process of supranational structure’s creation for implementation of the unified legislation and tax system. By the way, the treaty provides establishing a single parliament and creation of single currency and national symbols. To tell that Minsk was taken aback by such statement - not to tell anything. The Belarusian President urgently arrived to Moscow to negotiate with Putin, but apparently, they did not yield desirable result. And four bags of the Belarusian potato presented by Lukashenko to the Russian colleague did not help. The Belarusian President counted that he will manage to ensure smooth transition of the power to “crown prince” (the illegitimate son Nikolay) … All these are jokes, but in fact, a process of Belarus absorption has already started. Certainly, it is not a question for one day, but Putin has quite enough time for implementation of his plans. This process most likely will have been completed by 2024 and the same year the next presidential elections are taking place in Russia. Probably Putin counts that peaceful “accession” of Belarus will allow to improve his personal rating, to distract attention of electorate and under the guise of elections of the head of new ‘Union State’ to carry out safe transit of the power. Let’s say once again, the Kremlin does not consider an option of force accession of the neighboring state today, and intends to make everything silently and, as if, voluntary. Naturally, in so doing nobody will ask the opinion of the Belarusian leadership and, in particular, of the Belarusian people... Except for obvious ignoring of all international standards and laws such absorption bears in itself serious threats for safety of the European continent. First, Russia receives some kind of military base, especially in opposition against Ukraine and the Baltic states. Secondly, it strengthens its position in the European market as exclusive supplier of energy carriers, having an opportunity to dictate its terms. Such silent annexation is dangerous, because it also stimulates the aggressor to further actions. It is worth reminding that in the thirties of the last century a well-known tactics of “pacification of an aggressor” allowed Hitler at first to seize some countries without blood and any consequences and then to launch the world war resulted in tens of millions of victims and the destroyed continent. Therefore, perhaps, it is worth changing tactics of a pacification of an aggressor to more effective measures for preventing grand plans of Kremlin’s “gatherer of the lands”, otherwise it may be …
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