News Wrap: Belarus’ besieged Lukashenko meets with Putin
Negotiations between the leaders of the two states did not lead to visible results
MOSCOW – The content and results of the talks between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko remain largely a mystery behind seven seals. There is not a lot of specific information about the results of the next meeting of the leaders of Russia and Belarus in open sources, which has already become a tradition..
The meeting between Putin and Lukashenko took place yesterday in Mogilev within the framework of the fifth forum of the regions of Russia and Belarus. It was also reported that after the forum the leaders will hold an informal meeting with each other..
According to the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov, the parties “consolidated” decisions on a number of controversial issues, which were previously agreed upon at the previous talks in Sochi on September 21. Then a number of problems were unblocked, including those related to Russian supplies of oil products to Belarus and “re-customs clearance”, as the same Peskov reported..
At the same time, observers point out that much more problems and contradictions in relations between the two countries, formally united into the Union State, have accumulated. Thus, Moscow regularly provides Minsk with billions of dollars in loans, but nothing is known about their return, which allows experts to talk about the actual subsidizing of the Belarusian economy from the Russian budget..
In addition, Belarus practically never supported Russia on any issue of importance to the Kremlin in the international arena, be it the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the annexation of Crimea, the confrontation between Moscow and the West in connection with the Skripal case … So, in this context, talk about the existence de facto the Union State is not necessary.
“Belarus has once again approached bankruptcy with its own peculiar economic model, while the dad has nothing to sell – he has already sold or mortgaged everything he could. And at the same time, Father’s flirtation with China and the EU began to take on a character that was already threatening Russian interests, ”social psychologist Alexei Roshchin wrote in his blog on the eve of the meeting in Mogilev..
At the same time, experts note that Moscow has recently increased its pressure on Minsk, using mainly economic leverage, but Lukashenko seems to be able to ease the pressure again..
According to the professor, political scientist Nikolay Petrov, no matter what Lukashenka does or says now, he keeps in mind the upcoming presidential elections in Belarus, which are not far off. Therefore, the “dad” deliberately pedals to conflict problems in Russian-Belarusian relations, “of which there are always many,” the political scientist believes.
“President Lukashenko is a unique example in the post-Soviet space,” he added in an interview with the Voice of America. “Leading a country that has virtually no raw materials, he manages to get help from different sides, balancing between Russia and Europe. Moreover, usually, after sharp conflicts and an exchange of “pleasantries” on this matter, the decisions end up “in favor” of Belarus. In this sense, Lukashenka, of course, is an excellent politician who knows how to induce Moscow to continue subsidizing the Belarusian economy without making substantial concessions “.
At the same time, Nikolai Petrov thinks that the economy always prevails in Minsk in relations with Russia, while in Moscow – political considerations, and the Union State exists only on paper.
“We see quite tough steps related to the introduction of a regime on the (Russian-Belarusian) border, and much more. This clearly demonstrates that there is no Union State as such. There is only a certain shell and aspiration, first of all, of the Kremlin, to preserve this shell, including paying for it quite serious funds in the form of subsidies “, – the professor summed up.
In turn, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and Politics, SU-HSE Andrey Suzdaltsev in a commentary to the Voice of America, he stressed that Vladimir Putin continues in public to demonstrate his maximum affection for Alexander Lukashenko, “who periodically even insults Russians,” and so far he has gotten away with everything.
“At the same time, very interesting moments occur between the leaders’ meetings, which indicate that Minsk is not too happy with the way it is doing with Moscow,” he says. – The issue of “customs clearance”, which, in fact, is a pure subsidy for the Belarusian budget, has not been resolved. Although we are told that everything has already been agreed upon. Where is the “Russian” loan of a billion dollars, which Lukashenka submitted as a practically settled issue? There is no credit. It is also possible that in the near future the Russian-Belarusian border will be closed. “.
According to the political scientist, Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Rumas gave a rather objective assessment of the state of affairs: “He said that all painful issues will be resolved by the end of the year. In fact, we are talking about the fact that a new form of subsidy to the Belarusian economy will be formed..
Russia, of course, is not interested in the economic collapse of Belarus. If she ended her support in one fell swoop, it would lead to total disaster (of the republic). But the tendency to reduce this support is quite visible “.
The development of integration between the two countries would remove most of the questions, but it does not exist, Andrey Suzdaltsev stated. It seems to him that Moscow understands well that it will not have support from Minsk in the international arena, hence many problems arise..
“Why invest in a country that often pursues an anti-Russian policy? But some kind of compromise will still be found. Given that the recipient, as before, will be left alone – Belarus. The country is not developing. It processes billions of Russian budget money. When they calculated the amount of subsidies, it turned out that Belarus receives about 10 billion a year. This is almost equal to what all subsidized Russian regions receive, where about a hundred million people live. To form a belt of billionaires around Lukashenka at the expense of the Russian budget is too much, “he concluded..