Belarussian president Alexander Lukashenko’s possible trip to the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels is viewed by the Baltics as another symptom of Belarus abandoning Russia and turning to the West. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are working on separating Minsk and Moscow, pushing Lukashenko to go down the same path as Gaddafi and Milošević: without a military union with Russia, Belarus will be defenseless against “democratic bombings of the West and the Belarussian leader would be doomed.
During the Belgrade bombing by NATO Air Forces in 1999, Alexander Lukashenko spoke in favor of sending his Slavic brothers S-300 anti-air systems and proposed adding Yugoslavia to the Union State of Russia and Belarus.
After Yugoslavia was destroyed and its leader Slobodan Milošević handed over to the Hague Tribunal, the west was quite open in saying that Lukashenko is next in line. The idea of Alexander Lukashenko being a Belarussian Milošević (and must share his fate) has been said in Europe openly and many times. And the Belarussian leader has always known this and told his Western colleagues that he will defend himself, rather than “hide in a bunker, like Milošević.”
Lukashenko’s main guarantee of not repeating the fate of Hussein, Milošević, Gaddafi and other dictators America doesn’t like, has always been an alliance with Russia. This is why America’s puppets in Eastern Europe have been trying to ruin Minsk and Moscow’s relations and getting Russian military bases off Belarussian territory.
This is why they hyped up the hysteria around the Zapad-2017 exercises, when trying to convince Minsk that Russian troops would occupy Belarus.
To this goal, pseudoexperts spread false rumors of a Kremlin-planned state coup in Minsk to topple Lukashenko. This is also why they have been trying to get the Belarussian president to come to an Easter Partnership Summit, in order to add his voice to the anti-Russian choir of “United Europe.”
During its EU Presidency, Latvia wanted to add its unique contribution to EU’s Eastern policy, by having Alexander Lukashenko come to the Eastern Partnership Riga Summit.
In order to get the Belarussian leader to go to Riga, Latvia sent MFA officials and government delegates to Minsk one after the other, trying convince their Belarussian colleagues to seize the moment and strengthen ties with the European Union, while the Europeans are willing to talk to “Europe’s Last Dictator.”
They planned that during the Riga Summit, Belarussian president would sign a joint resolution with European leaders and heads of post-Soviet republics condemning Russia.
That would have been a heavy blow to the Russia-Belarus Union, and Moscow and Minsk would have an urgent conflict. The Russians would cry betrayal, because their brotherly nation went in line with the countries imposing sanctions against Russian and condemning the “annexation of Crimea.” This what all of the plans, efforts and diplomatic games were for.
Then Lukashenko figured the plot out and didn’t go to Riga. He realized the trap that was set for him, and with his usual straightforwardness came down on the Eastern Partnership and everyone promoting the programme.
But two years later, everything is repeating itself. Another Baltic republic is in its EU Presidency – Estonia. Its priority is once again EU’s Eastern policy, and another Eastern Partnership Summit is planned (not in the Baltics this time, but in Brussels). And once again, they want the Belarussian president to take part.
Despite Estonia’s presidency, the Belarussian angle is most actively developed by Lithuania. Lithuanian media is writing about Lukashenko’s visit to Brussels non-stop and predicting with utmost confidence that this visit will be the beginning of the end of the Russia-Belarus Union State.
Lietuvos žinios, for example, says that all of Europe is expecting the Belarussian leader in Brussels with open arms and ready to bring back the “wandering daughter Belarus” to the united family of European nations. “It can be assumed that the Belarussian president’s visit will eclipse the leaders of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, who actively seek EU membership.” And commenting on the issue MEP Petras Auštrevičius added that “Lukashenko’s appearance would turn the meeting upside down.”
Lithuanian media spread rumors they themselves make up, they find pressure in Russia-Belarus relations where there is none, and predict the Union State’s impending death. “The Union has existed for over 17 years now, however it is hard say if it will see its third decade. The recent Zapad-2017 exercises have show one thing – the so-called strategic partnership of Vladimir Putin and Lukashenko is increasingly more tense,” wrote Lithuania’s official mouthpiece LRT in its Has Lukashenko Gone Too Far? article.
Pushing Belarus to abandon its military union with Russia and removing Russian bases, Lithuania is brewing some thick conspiracy theories on how the Kremlin is staging a state coup in Minsk and ready to replace Lukashenko for a more pro-Russian politician.
Its spreading rumors of a divide in the Belarussian elite and a struggle between the pro-Russian and the pro-Western fractions. Pulling out obscure Belarussian experts no one has ever heard of, but who apparently have inside sources in Lukashenko’s Administration, Belarussian Secret Services and the Kremlin and sending this information to not just anybody, but Belarus’ main opposition piece Charter 97 (just the kind of place you would expect the Kremlin to have contacts in).
After all of the predictions made by Lithuania around the Zapad-2017, Lithuanian media can’t be taken seriously as a whole. And even so, the Lithuanian debate over Belarus’ fate are new, henceforth unseen height of absurdity. Belarus’ breakup with Russia is “apparent” because president Lukashenko may go to the Eastern Partnership in Brussels. The event has yet to even happen, Lukashenko has yet to go there or even mention that he will, and Lithuania already sees NATO and EU flags in Minsk.
Although, even if the Riga Summit blunder won’t repeat itself and the Belarussian president will take the invitation and comes to Brussels, the ones fighting for Belarus’ “European choice” have no chances.
For years now, the West has been expecting the Union State to fall apart any day now. But integration between Russia and Belarus is only growing deeper, with Belarussian economy looking to the EAEU.
Since 2014, Belarus-EU turnover has been falling with the economic crisis. According to foreign trade stats, in 2013 Belarus-EU turnover was 50% of its turnover with EAEU countries, and by 2016, it was only 42%. And trade with EU has dropped almost two-fold. In 2017, with the crisis at its end, Belarus-EAEU trade in January-June rose 23%, the increase of Belarus-EU trade was around 14%.
The West has not invested much into Belarus in recent years, they did not start any truly big and strategic project in Belarussian economy. All of Belarus’ strategic projects and investments into its future are tied to the East: the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant and the China-Belarus Industrial Park. Belarus’ main export to Europe is resources, while its EAEU exports are science-intensive products with high added value. Eurasian integration opens new markets for Belarus.
So the possible political integration of Belarus with the West has no economic foundation to it.
What would the West offer Belarus in exchange for leaving the Union with Russia? IMF credit lines? It would request Belarus destroy its social state model for those, instead going for 100% Housing and Utility Infrastructure expenses, paid medicine and education.
And what can the West offer to Alexander Lukashenko personally for changing his foreign policy? Guarantees of security and staying in power?
Every political leader who tried to resist the West, but later took steps towards it, ended up losing their power in the best case, and dying in the worst.
Milošević, Hussein, Gaddafi, Yanukovych… And now “Europe’s Last Dictator” is being pushed towards the same path.
And who is pushing him? Lithuania is shouldering most of the work. Using American money and with American support, Lithuania has undertaken many attempts at starting a “democratic revolution” in Minsk.
Actively working the Belarussian angle for Vilnius means actively working with Belarussian opposition. Just like now: two weeks ago in the Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science, they hosted discussion titled Opposition in Belarus: Role and Opportunities. Members of that discussion concluded that as long as Russia-dependent president Lukashenko is in power, Belarus will not be a neutral and independent country.
Talking of a neutral Belarus is absolute insanity. Belarus has never been, is not and will not be a neutral state, as long as Lukashenko is in power. Many Belarussian experts talk of the Finnish model, however that is utter stupidity. Belarus has military sites, it is part of a military alliance, the Belarussian NPP is also a rein of sorts.” said Freedom House Vilnius Office director Vytis Jurkonis to Belarussian opposition representative Tatsiana Karatkevich (leader of the civic campaign Tell the Truth), after she voiced her disgust with the West giving “nondemocratic Lukashenko” a chance.
After such discussions, it is fairly obvious that American will never accept Belarus as it is, a Russian ally.
And Freedom House are basically a non-staff division of the USA State Department. Funded from the US budget, NGO at America’s MFA. Through its official, Washington is telling Lukashenko: you close the military sites and leave the military union with the Kremlin first and then we will talk of your path to democracy.
As an advance, Jurkonis already said that the situation with democracy in Belarus is already much better than in Russian or Azerbaijan. Just recently Belarus was at the bottom of Freedom House’s ratings, and US Congress (who fund the organization) official dubbed Belarus as “Europe’s Last Dictatorship.” Now it turns out its democracy is looking downright peachy. That is the carrot for official Minsk: review your relations with Russia and you democratic value in our eyes will skyrocket.
The same carrot was dangled in Viktor Yanukovych’s face a few years ago. When Ukraine was going West, various Freedom Houses unanimously commended its successes in its path to democracy, human rights and common values.
And as soon as Yanukovych tried to maintain independence and disagree to signing the Ukraine-EU Association agreement on the Easter Partnership Summit, he turned into a “dictator” and “illegitimate president.”
Alexander Lukashenko’s only safe from such strong-arming from its “Western partners”, “democracy blackmail”, Belarussian Maidan and Yanukovych’s fate by being in a union with Russia.
As soon as Moscow’s military protection stops, the Americans will get real some hard talks with “Europe’s Last Dictator”. The same way they have been talking to “dictators”. And their bill is quite long for Lukashenko, so repeating Yanukovych’s path is the best he can expect. It is a lot more possible that the US and its lackeys are preparing an end a-la Gaddafi for the Belarussian leader.
Translated by Pavel Shamshiev