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What will result &# 171; gore&# 187; Moscow and Minsk?
Experts on trends in Russian-Belarusian relations
MOSCOW – After the practically fruitless meeting in Moscow of the presidents of Russia and Belarus, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko, experts and political scientists again started talking about the unprecedented pressure of the Kremlin on Minsk.
Negotiations took place in the Russian capital on December 25, and once again the parties did not reach an agreement on the main controversial issue.
We are talking about the desire of Minsk to receive compensation for losses from the so-called “tax maneuver” carried out by the government of Dmitry Medvedev.
According to Lukashenka’s estimates, the losses of the Belarusian budget as a result of such a maneuver amounted to almost $ 4.5 billion in three years, and by 2024 they will increase by another $ 10.5 billion. “Father” is seriously worried about the worsening economic situation in the republic, which is fraught with an explosion of social discontent among the population.
All this together leads to very harsh statements by the President of Belarus. Either he threatens to distribute weapons to the entire adult population of the republic to repel potential aggression, or he convenes a secret meeting to discuss the danger of Belarus losing its sovereignty. Who is the source of the threat is not stated directly, but this is clear by default..
Of course, Moscow also has enough claims to Minsk for its policy, both in the field of economics and politics. In particular, this concerns the import of sanctioned and excisable goods into the territory of the Russian Federation in the context of the retaliatory measures developed by the Russian government to confront the West. And on the external front, Belarus does not always show a willingness to pay for the policy pursued by the Kremlin..
So where is it going? Nikolai Petrov, professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the Higher School of Economics, thinks that this is not just another “butting” of Moscow and Minsk, but something more serious. Including because, as it seems to him, that Moscow “has partly run out of patience, and partly – resources”.
“Therefore, Lukashenka is now far from being in the most wonderful position to wage the usual positional war,” he stated in an interview with the Voice of America. – Just look at what a serious Russian ambassador has been sent to Belarus. I believe that this time the conflict will still not be resolved as usual – by concessions from Moscow. “.
The new ambassador of the Russian Federation to Belarus is Mikhail Babich, who has also been given the status of the president’s special representative for trade and economic cooperation. According to him, Russia’s total support for Minsk, even without the required compensation, reaches about 4.5 billion a year..
In connection with what is happening, the HSE professor thinks that the Kremlin, increasing pressure on Minsk and trying to change the old rules of the game, pursues economic and political tasks, but economic ones play a kind of auxiliary role for solving political ones: “Moscow expects to receive huge financial injections into the Belarusian the economy of something far more essential than promises. It seems to me that the version of the “oil in exchange for kisses” model has already ended, and Russia today is full of determination either to negotiate on a reciprocal basis and take control of Belarusian enterprises, or to seek closer cooperation (in the international arena) ”.
According to Nikolai Petrov, Lukashenko does not want either one or the other, but today Moscow has “much more trump cards than before.”.
In turn, the publicist Alexander Chaichyts, in a commentary to the Voice of America, noted that when analyzing the current situation, it is necessary to take into account a number of factors and a set of dilemmas that stand between the two sides of the conflict. According to him, Russia is striving to reduce subsidies to the Belarusian economy in the context of the fact that its own resources are becoming more and more scarce due to sanctions and the economic crisis..
“It is logical to assume that the first article on which Moscow is ready to save money is the support of its not the most loyal and reliable ally,” he added. “On the other hand, Russia cannot afford a sharp drift of Belarus to the West and a geopolitical reorientation of Minsk – again in the context of the country’s growing isolation”.
Recall that Minsk still has not recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia, not to mention the DPR-LPR, opposes the creation of a Russian military air base on the territory of the republic..
At the same time, the publicist pointed out that Lukashenka needs economic support from Russia, and this significantly limits his room for maneuver: “In addition, to ensure a truly full, long-term partnership with the West, Minsk should go to reform the current economic system and political regime. And this is extremely unlikely under Lukashenka “.
Therefore, the main question is what will outweigh and who will eventually force whom, according to Alexander Chaichyts. In his opinion, the position of Belarus is obviously much weaker.
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