Threats of sanctions from the collective West towards Belarus leave Lukashenka no other options except integration with Russia, and no chance to justify himself for the landing of a European plane and the arrest of the Belarusian opposition leader.
Through the efforts of the Baltic states and Poland, all decisions on Belarus were made even before the official Minsk had time to formulate its argumentation and say at least something.
One gets the feeling that this was expected and prepared for this.
Without such wonderful, albeit unwitting, assistants like Poland and Lithuania and Latvia, the scandal surrounding the detention of Roman Protasevich might not have been so beneficial for Moscow. The Baltic countries did everything to multiply the scandalousness of this incident by an order of magnitude, making it a part of the European agenda and cutting off all paths to reconciliation between the European Union and Minsk.
The main work, of course, was done by Lithuania, which immediately transferred the regional scandal to the level of an international crisis by banning takeoff and landing on its territory for all aircraft flying through the territory of Belarus. Not even the notorious Article 5 of the NATO Charter on “collective repulsion of the aggressor” was not done: they found a reason to recall it in connection with the escort of the Ryanair aircraft.
It is difficult to understand what motives were guided by the mayor of Riga Martins Stakis and Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevich when they did this. In addition to Belarus and Russia, for some reason the sports movement as such was included in the list of “outcasts”: the flag of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) was also lowered down the flagpole, which provoked a scandal with the IIHF leadership. As a result, they achieved that Belarus expelled the Latvian ambassador and the entire embassy from the country.
Sanctions: Like Iran and North Korea
After the arrest of Roman Protasevich, Minsk was threatened with sanctions, which no one introduced even after the brutal suppression of Belomaidan. They can be compared, perhaps, with sanctions against Iran or North Korea. And despite the fact that this information is published only by journalists from Western media, citing their own sources in the ruling circles, it is already impressive.
The closure of Belavia flights over the entire EU territory, as well as the promise to introduce personal sanctions against aviation officials of Belarus look like flowers against their background. They are also discussing “berries” – restrictions against the largest export industries of the republic, which can seriously hit the country’s economy.
Reuters writesthat the sanctions will affect the sale of bonds, the oil sector and the potash industry – all these areas (except for bonds) bring very serious income to Belarusians. If exports are blocked altogether or seriously quota, this will be a very painful blow to the country’s budget and balance of payments.
True, in this case, consumers in the West will also suffer – they will have to wait for a price jump in this market. There will be a shortage of products, which will have to be filled by other producers, among which the Russian Uralkali is named first of all. But as with the 2014 sanctions against Russia, this can be sacrificed for political considerations.
EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell went further and demanded to stop the transit of Russian gas through Belarus. And this is already a blow to Russia, and with an eye to preserving Ukrainian transit even after the launch of Nord Stream 2.
Belarus made the next move
Lukashenko’s visit to Sochi was predictable. After the collective West actually declared war on him, and the lists of sanctions began to smoothly flow from economic threats to the beginning of hostilities against Belarus, Lukashenka had no choice but to throw himself into Putin’s arms.
“Belarus has reached the home stretch for closer integration with Russia,” President of the Republic Alexander Lukashenko and his government said on June 1. In order to voice this, Lukashenka convened a large public meeting with the ministers, where he also invited the press. That is, the goal was to declare as loudly as possible that the completion of the Union State is already at the final stage.
But Lukashenka’s main audience is the West, which is preparing a serious package of anti-Belarusian sanctions. The European Union and the United States have shown that Minsk is ready to finally drop the multi-vector approach and turn to the East. And this may become the most unexpected result of the entire campaign that the West launched last year with the aim of overthrowing Lukashenka – the drift of Belarus towards Russia will only intensify.
The funny thing is that Ukraine, which also imposes sanctions against Belarus, and now condemns the rapprochement between Minsk and Moscow, does its best to contribute to this process. And by the way, it was Ukraine that first got serious problems because of this. In June, the Belarusian Oil Company (BOC) intends to supply about 10 thousand tons of A-95 gasoline to Ukraine. Previously, the monthly delivery rate was more than 50 thousand tons, and this provided no less than 50% of the Ukrainian market.
Against the background of a possible embargo on diesel fuel supplies from Russia, Ukraine will have to urgently diversify fuel supplies, which is quite difficult to do during this period of the year.
Belarus recognizes Crimea as Russian?
Lukashenka’s main statement at this meeting is his intention to open air links with Crimea. According to him, Minsk and Moscow will work out the issue of opening flights to Crimea. He turned to Putin with a request to allow Belarusian planes to fly there through the territory of Russia.
“Ukraine has closed the sky for us. We have our own sanatorium in Crimea, in Miskhor, where people have always traveled, flew … Now they have closed the sky. I told Putin:“ Think about how we can get to Crimea. We will not fly through Poland: they are not allowed there either, “the President of Belarus said. He added that he had negotiated flights to Crimea with Petro Poroshenko, but they did not lead to anything, since Ukraine is considering visiting Crimea not through its border posts. as a violation.
To enhance the effect, Lukashenko added that he himself is ready to go to Crimea with Putin. “I will have to ask President Putin to somehow take me to Crimea. Maybe on the schooner that we negotiated (this weekend in Sochi, Ed.), We will sit down with him and go to Crimea. Therefore, I am absolutely free here. They made this gimmick and these provocations (Ukraine’s imposition of sanctions against Belarus – Ed.). So now bribes are smooth from me, just like from other Belarusians, “Lukashenko said. And this, de facto, means the recognition of Crimea as part of Russia.
We reached the finish line in the Union State
After a meeting with Lukashenko, Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko said that in coordinating integration with Russia, the matter is coming to an end:
“In fact, we are entering the home stretch upon the agreement of all union programs, which cover the construction of a single economic space of the two countries in order to ensure equal working conditions for economic entities of Belarus and Russia. in order to complete all the work no later than summer and submit prepared decisions on this matter to the heads of state. We are building a new model of relations within the framework of a single economic space in order to create not just equal conditions, but new models of economies that should develop synchronously. “
The integration process of Belarus and Russia has been going on for over 20 years. In 1999, the Treaty on the Union State was signed. It involves the adoption of a constitution of the union, the establishment of supranational bodies (a bicameral parliament, a court, an accounting chamber), the creation of a single economic space, the introduction of a common currency, etc. However, these processes have not yet been completed. Governments are in the process of agreeing on roadmaps.
Also, the Cabinet of Ministers of Belarus and Russia were instructed to work out a joint response to sanctions. “I ask you not to delay the resolution of this issue. This should all be reasonable, not rush, you should not shoot yourself in the foot, in the arm, or even in the head,” Lukashenka said during the meeting to the head of government. “We understand very well what is happening around our country, and we assess this situation in absolutely the same way. And we are fully determined to resist all these attacks together,” the President of Belarus added.
According to him, at the final stage and the merger of customs systems, which will be coordinated from a single center. At the same time, But father clarified that we are not talking about a supranational body.
“With the help of Russia and China, Belarus will withstand any sanctions”
So, the real consequences of the West’s sanctions against Lukashenka are the deepening of his integration with Russia.
As you can see, the President of Belarus made his last statements about rapprochement with Moscow after threats to impose sectoral sanctions against the country, which hit the main export industries.
That is, on the one hand, it can be viewed as an element of the game with the West and a warning not to get carried away by sanctions. And so far the question is really: how tough the new restrictions against Belarus will be. And will Europe and the United States want to push the country into the arms of Russia.
On the other hand, Minsk is really working on integration with Moscow. This can be seen from the personal communication between Putin and Lukashenko, who have recently shown friendly relations. It is unlikely that Father would have been accepted this way in Russia if he openly “merged” the current work on deepening integration.
And it is safe to assume that if serious sanctions against Minsk follow, its dependence on Russia will become unprecedented since the collapse of the USSR.