Belarus completes the collapse of the USSR with its drama. It is the Belarusians who put an end to this process, defrosting the remnants of Sovietism.
The Belarusian protest has become an event that neither the West nor Russia were ready for. Belarus has shown that the conflict between the personal power system and its electoral legitimation can be resolved by rejecting either the elections or the personal power system. Otherwise, the country will be in turmoil.
Belarus has become a test for the West as a global project that protects democratic values. The West has failed the test. To do anything to avoid the Ukrainian scenario, not to provoke Russia – these fears have formed the Western reaction to the Belarusian August.
It is not just the hypocrisy of Western elites. The problem is with the Western model, which requires compromises to resolve conflicts. But this model is not able to resolve a conflict of society with a dictator, if he is not ready to retreat. Moreover, the West is not ready for a confrontation with a nuclear state that looks at the world through the prism of balance of power and deterrence.
The Kremlin cannot but feel satisfied. After all, the liberal democracies have recognised the Russian sphere of influence and the inclusion of Belarus into it.
The “Armenian scenario” would be optimal for the Western community, as Western politicians themselves say (already with nostalgia). In short: regime change, but keeping Belarus in the sphere of Russia’s interests.
Russia has chosen a different scenario: preserving Belarus in the sphere of Russia’s gravity while preserving Alexander Lukashenko. In his interview on 27 August, President Vladimir Putin supported Lukashenko, promising him a “reserve of law enforcement officers” if the situation “gets out of control”. This is Putin’s warning to both the West and the Belarusian opposition: “You’ll get a slap on the wrist.”
The Kremlin has deemed it possible to stake out its position as the “main player” in the region.
The public mood in Russia supports the Kremlin’s choice, judging by the fact that 57 percent of our respondents support Lukashenko and only 25 percent have a positive attitude to the protesters (Levada Center poll). Putin has dispelled doubts: Moscow does not give up on Lukashenko. Yet!
The question immediately arises: will the Russian “reserve” be landed if hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets of Belarusian cities? Or is it just a threat that should put out the fire of the protests? Most likely, Putin hopes (is sure?) that Belarusians will not try their luck. And what if they do?
Meanwhile, Belarus is also becoming a test for Moscow. To start with, it is not clear how well-founded is its hope for the humility of the cornered beast. Lukashenko does not look like a leader who will crawl to the Kremlin on his knees. He will cheat, lie, blackmail. Is there a guarantee that he will not arrange provocations on the borders with NATO countries, for which Moscow will have to take responsibility? It is obvious that in the event of a threat to his power, he will arrange a “robbery” with “extremist elements”. In fact, Putin has already become a hostage to his public promise to support Lukashenko.
Of course, the Kremlin will be pondering replacement of the “Old Man”. After all, he will continue to test Putin’s patience. Clearly, this is not the best option for controlling a vassal country. But the replacement is a matter of the future.
Support for Lukashenko means that Russia is taking the Belarusian economy on board and will have to pay for his violence. The lightning-fast aid that Moscow promised to Lukashenko is truly shocking: Putin is going to refinance the Belarusian debt of $1 billion. Are Russian taxpayers ready for this? Having secured Belarus as a buffer country, Russia gets a bankrupt country. What a strategic might!
It would be strange if the Kremlin’s support for Lukashenko did not provoke anti-Russian feelings among Belarusians. In this case, the conflict between the government and society in Belarus would turn into a geopolitical crisis, when Belarusians will question the “fraternal relations” with Russia.
Having supported Lukashenko, Russia is now responsible for his sadism and violence; for the tortured, the detained, and the disappeared. Russia is responsible for his readiness to turn Belarus into a Stalingrad stronghold of war with the West.
Belarus has allowed Putin to regain his place in the Top League. The global Concert of Powers cannot manage now without the Russian President. But we have yet to learn the price of appeasement of Belarus.
However, let us not write the West off. Yes, the liberal democracies did not solve the Belarusian problem. But Belarus has lobbyists in Europe represented by the Baltic-Nordic bloc plus Poland. Tens of thousands of people in Lithuania who formed a human chain to support the Belarusian protest are a factor of moral strength. The Western car turns around slowly. However, it is difficult to stop it when it starts moving. The question is whether it is ready to start moving. The question is, how long will Belarusians have to wait for the car to start moving?
Meanwhile, the world will look at Russia through the prism of Belarus, as the Kremlin has assumed the role of a “problem-solver” and prepared a law enforcement “reserve” for Belarusians.
And finally, how can the Kremlin help resolve the conflict between the people and the dictator in Belarus if it cannot resolve its own conflict with the people in Khabarovsk?! Or is Belarus a rehearsal ahead of dealing with the Russian problems?
The original article was published on the author’s page and is published by iSANS with the author’s consent.
Материал доступен на русском языке: Беларусь и этот циничный и трусливый мир