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Is Belarus on the brink of pivoting away from Russia?

President Lukashenko’s recent actions and statements suggest Belarus may be about to pivot away from its traditional alliance with Russia towards the West.

Andrew Korybko

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The past couple of days have seen a flurry of statements and actions from the Belarussian side indicating that President Lukashenko is on the brink of pivoting his country away from Russia.

As a brief backgrounder, I have previously written a detailed analysis in May 2015 questioning the intentions behind Belarus’ rapid rapprochement with the West, suggesting that its leader might be tempted by sanctions relief and other perks to ditch his Russian ally in favor of his new “Western partners”.  Lo and behold, that cautionary forecast now horrifyingly seems to be on the verge of rapidly materializing, as Lukashenko sharply lashed out at Russia for its decision to heighten the FSB’s security forces along their mutual border and has threatened escalatory political-legal measures in response.

Russia’s supposedly controversial move was prompted by Minsk declaring at the beginning of last month that it would implement 5-day visa-free travel privileges to visitors from over 80 countries. While the public intent behind this decision appears to have been to improve Belarus’ attractiveness to foreign tourists and bring in much-needed foreign currency, any responsible security professional in Russia could obviously see the potential for it to be exploited by hostile forces in exporting countless “Weapons of Mass Migration” into their country.

It should be remarked in this context that Russia and Belarus are legally in a “union state” which has removed the common international border between them, so “visitors” entering Belarus could in theory just hop across the border to Russia without any problem.

Therefore, Moscow felt compelled to order the FSB border security initiative which has since rankled Minsk.

In hindsight, it appears as though Lukashenko’s earlier decision pertaining to 5-day visa-free travel privileges for over 80 different countries was a sly provocation to trigger the predicted Russian response, with Belarus foreseeing that this would give it enough of a “face-saving” excuse to justify its further pivot towards the West.

In regards to this preplanned provocation and Russia’s reasonable reaction to it, Lukashenko has issued a set of statements which would have been otherwise inconceivable – or at the very least, “unjustified” – had it not been for the drama that he (or the foreign forces advising him) first engineered.

Commenting on the FSB decision to heighten border security with Belarus, he accused Russia of violating international agreements , which is uncharacteristically harsh language for one “ally” to use against another. Coupling this with the preexisting (and often perennial) oil dispute that he once again has with Moscow, Lukashenko swore that he would take Russia to court.

If this results in Russia cutting off oil supplies or at the very least reducing their output until the increasingly prolonged dispute is finally settled, then Belarus is willing to deal with the consequences of what would eerily mirror the gas crisis that Ukraine started with Russia over a decade ago.

In the words of the Belarussian President himself

It is clear that we will do without Russian oil, though it will be very difficult for us. It is not comparable, if you choose between independence and Russian, Iranian, Azerbaijani or American oil

As the saying goes, “when it rains, it pours”, and Lukashenko looks to have used this ‘convenient’ occasion to also issue threats against Russia for banning select agricultural imports from Belarus on the grounds that they were unsafe.

Lukashenko pinpointed Sergey Dankvert, the head of Rosselkhoznadzor (Russian agriculture watchdog), as being the subject of a new “criminal proceeding” for allegedly “causing damage to the state”.

What Belarus is doing, in fact, is laying the precedential framework for later ‘justifying’ its forthcoming withdrawal or (voluntary or Russian-enforced) suspension from the Eurasian Union, despite Lukashenko smearing such a forecast as a “hoax story”.

It might also be preparing to do something similar as regards the CSTO, even though the organization just issued an official statement refuting any such reports.

It’s unclear at this moment exactly how far Belarus’ pro-Western pivot will go, and whether Lukashenko plans to leave or become suspended from one or both of these organizations, or remain within them as a permanent stumbling block to their efficiency.

The Belarussian leader’s words can’t be taken at face value, since even if he intends to pursue one or the other scenario, he’d obviously have enough diplomatic sense at this time to not openly state so in public, though whatever promises he gave to his new “Western partners” are another matter entirely.

No matter which direction it ultimately leads, Belarus’ latest moves are very troubling for Russia’s multipolar integrational efforts and have served to accelerate the deterioration in trust between both sides.

Although bilateral disputes are not uncommon, this one carries with it a deeper significance because of the raft of countermeasures and unusually harsh rhetoric that accompany it, to say nothing of the tense international situation of the New Cold War in which all of this is unfolding.

It’s very unlikely that the hot-headed and stubborn Lukashenko will back down from his latest theatrics, both because of the nature of his personality and due to the subtle encouragement that he’s getting from his new “Western partners”.

The extent of how far he’ll eventually go is probably dependent on the financial and other personal benefits that he believes he can reap from a pro-Western pivot, as well as whether Russia is successful in matching or ‘outbidding’ them for his continued ‘loyalty’.

A closet reading of the situation, however, indicates that Belarus has already made up its mind about which direction it wants to go and is approaching the final stages of formalizing its decision.

Minsk’s latest attacks against Moscow might even be political signaling to Brussels and Washington that Lukashenko is serious about whatever he may have previously agreed to with them behind closed doors, and that this most recent round of rhetoric is a ‘goodwill gesture’ designed to prove to them that he’s indeed a trustworthy partner. All that he’s waiting for now is confirmation that his covert interlocutors will carry through on their end of the deal, which might not happen right away of course, but could progressively play out across the next couple of months as more sanctions are lifted and other perks extended to the Belarussian leadership and its military-economic elite supporters.

Should Belarus continue along this trajectory, then whether or not it remains in Russia’s economic and military integrational institutions is a moot point because it’ll be essentially functioning as a deadweight which holds them back from everything that they’re trying to accomplish.

Even worse, however, would be if Lukashenko tries to integrate Belarus into the opposite direction through an EU Association Agreement and a milder form of the “Shadow NATO” partnership that Ukraine presently has.

If either of these two, let alone both, eventualities ends up transpiring in any form or fashion, then it would signal a major crisis for the security of Russia’s western borderland regions.

Russia already has to worry about Sweden and Finland potentially joining NATO in the future, the Atlantic Bloc’s illegal buildup in the Baltic States and Poland, Ukraine’s uncomfortable de-facto integration with parts of the organization, and the group’s provocative war games in the Black Sea, so the last thing that Moscow needs to worry about at this moment is one of its most trusted and longest allies ‘defecting’ to the enemy and opening up a gaping hole in Russia’s security.

Moreover, given the lasting effect of historical memory and unshakeable geopolitical determinants, it’s entirely foreseeable that an emboldened and newly anti-Russian Belarus might team up with Poland in expanding Warsaw’s “NeoCommonwealth” eastward to the gates of the Russian Heartland/Core.

There’s no telling how Russia’s decision makers would preemptively respond if they were convinced that such a scenario was inevitably unfolding, but it’s reasonable to conclude that it would represent the end of the Russian-Belarussian Strategic Partnership.

From a cynical perspective, however, the triggering of this series of events – which appears to have already started to a certain degree – might have been exactly what the US and EU expected when they initiated their first ‘olive branch’ outreaches to the country a few years ago, and with Lukahsneko personally lavishing in the “pro-democratic” praise of his new “Western partners” and appearing to be utterly enamored with the attention that they’ve been giving him lately, it’s going to be a monumental challenge for Russia to reverse the strategic momentum and “win” Belarus back.

DISCLAIMER: All personal views are my own and do not necessarily coincide with the positions of my employer (Sputnik News) or partners unless explicitly and unambiguously stated otherwise by them. I write in a private capacity unrepresentative of anything and anyone except for my own personal views. Nothing written by me should ever be conflated with Sputnik or the Russian government’s official position on any issue.

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Every dirty Democrat trick shows in bid to oust Kavanaugh

American democracy truly is mob rule now, and the mob is stupid, with no one taking a moment to truly consider the situation.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The most amazing thing about what is ostensibly the last minute “Hail Mary” smear campaign by the left against Judge Brett Kavanaugh is how utterly transparently partisan it is. Let’s look at the list of tactics used thus far in this very dirty escapade:

  • Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein sat on this allegation for three months, until after the confirmation hearings were over (and after no other barnstorming tactic during the confirmation hearings worked against the nominee).
  • The accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is a registered Democrat, and a feminist. RT notes that she appears to have a strong interest in politics.
  • Reports of “death threats” against Dr. Ford have been reported. This is a common feature of any anti-Trump attack, to relate him to some sort of “right-wing” radicalism. This radicalism does not exist among conservatives, but the media is determined to say otherwise.
  • Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, naturally, believes Ford’s story.
  • Every Democrat senator is in agreement that this matter should table the confirmation vote. Some Republicans were at first but appear to be backing away.
  • A woman Democrat senator,  Mazie Hirono, went on record telling men to “shut up and step up.” It seems abundantly clear that this assumes that there can only be one “step” that the men are expected to do. A second lady senator , Patty Murray of Washington, gave all men a warning against stepping off the plantation by saying “Women are watching.”
  • The Senate Republicans offered a chance for Dr Ford to testify on Monday. She refused, but now she is offering to come “next Thursday” – this is ten days later, past the October 1 start date of the US Supreme Court, and closer to the November Midterm elections.

We interrupt this list to make this point. The issues at hand are threefold.

First, the Democrats and other left-wing activists are terrified that they will lose the “Warren Court”, which is the name of the Supreme Court Justice who was a major left-wing judicial activist that enabled the Court to “legislate from the bench” along liberal policy lines since 1969. If Kavanaugh comes in, even if President Trump is somehow magically removed from office, his mark will remain on the Court for at least a generation. Of course, the removal of President Trump is predicated on the Democrats regaining control of the House, which actually looks somewhat likely if polling data is to be believed, and of course a Democrat Senate. (The actual tiny caveat that the President has done absolutely nothing which warrants impeachment will not be taken into consideration. He is to be eliminated. That is Democrat point number one, and make no mistake.)

Second, if the Judge is confirmed, it will look great on the President’s achievement list and energize his voter base even more than it already is. The result could be that the Senate expands its Republican majority, and gains Trumpian conservatives in its ranks, which would likely help the President continue his really great agenda. A defeat in the House that holds or expands GOP, again with Trumpian conservatives, would solidify this, and make it more difficult to stop Trump’s re-election and further solidification of reforms in 2020.

Third, and probably even more important, is that the possibility of a third seat getting vacated on the Court in the time period between now and 2024 is relatively high. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the oldest Justice on the Court, and she is a raving liberal. If she retires (which she promises not to do), or if she is retired by the processes of old age, Trump can score a three-peat and get a third constitutionalist justice into the Court and that will signal the closure of one of the biggest avenues of liberal activism.

To return to the list, some of the further characteristics that make this situation patently obvious are these:

  • As reported in The Duran, the smear job is looking a bit ragged around the edges as time goes by. President Trump called Dr Ford’s bluff by saying he is interested in having her come to testify and that it would be “unfortunate” if she didn’t do so. Ford’s response was as shown above, to try and delay this testimony.
  • The Hollywood “sisterhood” is on record defending Dr Ford. For them, she’s right. She said Kavanaugh did this, so she is right. And why? Because she is a woman, a feminist and a Democrat. She is one of them. It would very interesting to know if the sisterhood would stand behind a conservative woman raising such a concern against a Democrat, but we have President Clinton to show how well that all went.

This by no means concludes the list of characteristics, but as noted earlier here, anyone that does even just a little critical thinking about this can see that this issue is no moral outrage, it is strictly partisan hackery, making use of the greatest weapon against conservative men put in use over the last fifty years – the sexual allegation from a woman, who must always be believed, because the woman is always right. 

The unfortunate truth is that this tactic works. It works because most men are actually gentlemen. We honor women, and we are taught to defer to them in America, because that is what a gentleman does. Feminism takes this characteristic of men, especially in modern times who really want to make sure they treat the ladies right, and it throws it back in their face in contempt. It is so bad it even has a physiological effect on men, who are now marrying less, and having fewer kids. There are even physiological changes that result from this abuse.

Further, there is an appalling lack of critical thinking in our society. The British news site, The Independent offers a poll with questions about the Kavanaugh case. The astonishing lack of critical thinking is clearly evident as the reader votes his or her thought and then sees the results for that question. Going through the questions and observing their responses can be very illuminating.

Dr Ford is demanding an FBI investigation, but she has no date, time or location attached to the incident she accuses now-Judge Kavanaugh of perpetrating. Rush Limbaugh did a great job at showing just how absurd this demand actually is, given these glaring areas of non-knowledge and we include some of that transcript below:

What would happen, let’s say — I don’t know — in the last 10 years up to last week if any woman had walked into any FBI office in the country and said the following: “Hi. I’m here to report that I was abused 35 years ago. I was — I was — I was at a party. Uh, I was 15, a little bit to drink, and a 17-year-old guy pushed me down on top of a table and laid on top of me. And then — and then and then I think — I think — a friend came in and did something and anyway they left and I was left locked in the room. And I want to you to investigate.”

Do you think if somebody shows up at an FBI office with that story, if they show up in person with that story, that the FBI is gonna give it any time whatsoever? The agents are gonna look at each other with kind of wary eyes and they’re gonna crack silent jokes to one another. I’m not kidding. You take this out of the realm of a letter to a crazed, partisan United States senator, Dianne Feinstein, and just move this into the victim walking into an FBI office, “It was 35 years, 34 years. I’m not sure where. But I know that when I was 15, I was at a party, and some guy jumped on top of me.”

So let’s say the FBI agent decides to actually take this further and in a very respectful way says, “Well, Miss, were you raped or injured?”

“Uh, no, not really.”

“Did you report this or tell anyone at the time, 36, 35 years ago?”

“Uh, no.”

“What year was this, again, that this happened?”

“Uhhh, I’m not — I’m not sure. I think it was 1982.”

“Where did this happen?”

“I don’t know! I don’t know. I was so traumatized; I don’t remember any of it. I just remember some guy jumping on me and I was drunk and — and I don’t know. But I want you to investigate it.”

“Okay. Ma’am, were there any witnesses?”

“Just the one friend of his that pushed him off, and then they left before he could do anything.”

What would the FBI do with this, if that scenario happened in one of their field offices? I will tell you what they would do: Zip, zero, nada. And the reason for bringing it up this way is to try to shine some kind of a different light on this and try to put this kind of allegation in some kind of context. The president is handling this in a quite fascinating way. He’s saying, “I hope she shows up. I want to hear what she has to say. I really hope she shows up. I’m very interested in what she has to say. We all are. And if she shows up and if she’s credible, why, then we’re gonna have to do something about that.”

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Russian Hierarch explains Ukrainian issue in detail (VIDEO)

A Russian Orthodox Hierarch explores the incursion of earthly politics into the life, pastoral activity and needs of the Orthodox Church.

Seraphim Hanisch

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RT’s “Worlds Apart” interview program recently interviewed Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), a hierarch who heads the Department of External Church Relations for the Moscow Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church. The Duran has covered the crisis in Ukraine surrounding the activity of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, of Constantinople, intended to create a fully independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This effort falls completely outside the normal and authorized operating procedures of the Orthodox Church, but to the lay listener it is difficult to understand what the fuss really is all about.

Metropolitan Hilarion and Oksana Boyko do an excellent job with both the answers, but more importantly, the questions, since Ms. Boyko asks the questions that someone who knows nothing about the Church might ask. This situation is completely about politics and not about the true work of the Church, and Met. Hilarion answers these questions very completely and thoroughly.

One of the really interesting points that Met. Hilarion makes is the idea that the Ecumenical Patriarch seeks to bring about the creation of a fully independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church from these four groups:

  • The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (which is canonical and which has not requested self-rule, called autocephaly
  • The Ukrainian Orthodox Church “Kyiv Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko, which is a completely schismatic group. This group, and Filaret, are leading the charge.
  • The Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church – another schismatic group that is not in communion with Filaret’s church
  • The Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine – and this is truly interesting, because this group is not even Orthodox, but is an Eastern Rite group under the Pope of Rome, and is in fact Roman Catholic.

The notion of bringing together such a disparity of groups is stunning to the Metropolitan, and yet he understands the motives of the men driving this idea, President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, Patriarch Bartholomew, and Filaret Denisenko.

While the United States is not mentioned in this interview in any prominent sense, it should be noted that this move also does have strong US support as the American political leadership has been advocating for the Poroshenko government in an effort to continue to surround and isolate Russia. As we have noted elsewhere, this series of moves may well create more problems for Russia, by design.

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James Woods Suspended From Twitter Over Satirical Meme That Could “Impact An Election”

James Woods crushes Jack Dorsey: “You are a coward, @Jack.”

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Outspoken conservative actor James Woods was suspended from posting to Twitter over a two-month-old satirical meme which very clearly parodies a Democratic advertisement campaign. While the actor’s tweets are still visible, he is unable to post new content.

The offending tweet from July 20, features three millennial-aged men with “nu-male smiles” and text that reads “We’re making a Woman’s Vote Worth more by staying home.” Above it, Woods writes “Pretty scary that there is a distinct possibility this could be real. Not likely, but in this day and age of absolute liberal insanity, it is at least possible.”

According to screenshots provided by an associate of Woods’, Twitter directed the actor to delete the post on the grounds that it contained “text and imagery that has the potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election.

In other words, James Woods, who has approximately 1.72 million followers, was suspended because liberals who don’t identify as women might actually take the meme seriously and not vote. 

In a statement released through associate Sara Miller, Woods said “You are a coward, @Jack,” referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “There is no free speech for Conservatives on @Twitter.

Earlier this month, Woods opined on the mass-platform ban of Alex Jones, tweeting: ““I’ve never read Alex Jones nor watched any of his video presence on the internet. A friend told me he was an extremist. Believe me that I know nothing about him. That said, I think banning him from the internet is a slippery slope. This is the beginning of real fascism. Trust me.”

Nu-males everywhere non-threateningly smirk at Woods’ bad fortune…

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