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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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The consolidation of power of the global military industrial complex

Do Europeans support the notion that the countries of the EU be the nuclear war playground of the United States?

Richard Galustian

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Humanity faces two imminent existential threats: environmental catastrophe and nuclear war.

America has elected to completely ignore scientists warnings that we have 12 years to reverse an environmental disaster.

As far as nuclear obliteration, Trump announced that the US is withdrawing from the INF treaty, which eliminated short range missiles deployed in Western Europe, on Russia’s doorstep. It’s the equivalent of Russia placing nuclear missiles in Venezuela.

A provocation, which enables US supplied missiles to be launched, only a few minutes flight time to Moscow.

That, of course sharply increases the nuclear danger. Historically on both sides, attack warnings given by automated systems have often proved faulty in the past; that, if enacted upon, would have meant the end of life as we know it.

Anyone familiar with contemporary military history knows that it’s a virtual miracle that we have so far avoided nuclear war.

Politically within Europe, the attack on democracy is very clear. Unchallenged undemocratic institutions in Brussels exist that is, in the main, part of the problem of the UK BREXIT negotiations.

Why does the public readily accept wars, engineered by our morally bankrupt governments to create ‘regime change’ in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Ukraine and soon to be Venezuela followed by Nicaragua and Iran, with such a muted outcry?

That preemptive nuclear attacks are even thought of shows the insanity of Western leadership controlled by vested financial interests led by the Military/Security Industrial Complex and bankers. Those same interests created both ‘industrialised’ World Wars in the 20th Century.

Our governments do not listen to the people. When two million hit the streets of London before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, it made not an iota of difference to Tony Blair’s government.

Today, people’s apathy is notably caused by conditioning’, maybe better described as we’ve been ‘disciplined’ by MSM propaganda and family’s economic necessity to focus on their income, have made us so, due to our governments mismanagement of our economies.

Example, our university students are saddled with impossible to repay debt for a reason; to keep future generations ‘disciplined’.

No one has time or dare show any dissent especially given the Orwellian ‘newspeak’ environment that is created by ‘political correctness’.

Back to the subject of Russia phobia. The Western narrative against Russia is, in the main, the below:

* that Russia tried to murder the Skripals. Let the British government, who seem to be holding the Skripals against their will, prove they are not, by letting them be interviewed by the World’s Press.

* Ukraine – For over four years, the governments of NATO and the MSM have been waging the new cold war against Russia. This began with the ‘Maidan’ protests in Kyiv, Ukraine in early 2014 that culminated in the overthrow, universally acknowledged to have been engineered by the CIA, of Ukraine’s elected president and Parliament in February 2014. Putting in power an ultra neo-Nazi government, that in particular voiced hatred against all things Russian…and Jewish. Which MSM, TV news or newspapers, says so?

* That almost 100% of Crimea’s population are glad and grateful to be part of Russia. US, UK and EU says that is untrue, which is nonsense.

The demonisation of Russia is central to the multinational corporate interests that control our governments; the bankers protecting the steeply declining US Dollar, the institutions of the EU that are really controlled by Washington, who are preparing world public opinion to accept what the United States are now gearing up for, the “defence” of Europe.

At this point let us reflect on history by quoting one of America’s most distinguished soldiers, maybe of its entire history, General Smedley D. Butler, from his book ‘War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier.’

“No one told these American soldiers that they might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here. No one told them that the ships on which they were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines built with US patents.”

It is recommended to read more about General Smedley Butler, as he was the man chosen by US bankers and particularly the Bush family in the 1930s, to be the new fascist leader of the USA by overthrowing, in a coup, the then President Roosevelt during the period of Hitler’s rise to power. A coincidence one wonders. Butler was a true patriot; he bided his time then revealed the plot to both Congress and President Roosevelt. If you doubt this, it is suggested you research the subject.

We can stop the consolidation of power of the global military/security industrial complex, its war party associates, and specifically the US, UK and EU deep state political and financial elite that no doubt exists. We must elect new leaders, it’s that simple.

To quote Noam Chomsky “….power is always illegitimate, unless it proves itself to be legitimate. So the burden of proof is always on those who claim that some authoritarian hierarchic government is legitimate. If they can’t prove it, then it should be dismantled.”

Implicit in this statement is change by either elections or revolutions.

The French people have shown us when enough is enough by their persistent resistance to their government.

Do Europeans support the notion that the countries of the EU be the nuclear war playground of the United States?

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Google flipped seats, shifted millions of votes to Dems in 2018 midterms

Google influenced 2018 midterms, shifted millions of votes to Dems – new research.

RT

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Via RT…


Google’s biased search algorithm actually flipped seats in the 2018 US midterm elections, according to a researcher who found the search engine’s “dramatically biased” results could have shifted over 78 million votes to Democrats.

“Upwards of 25 percent of the national elections in the world are being decided without people’s knowledge by Google’s search algorithm,” senior research psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology told RT, calling the search engine the “deciding factor” in close races.

Epstein’s study of three 2018 California House races found Google played the deciding role in flipping those Republican-held seats to the Democrats, influencing millions of undecided voters by controlling what they saw when they searched 500 election-related terms. Google’s results showed a “significant liberal bias,” unlike Bing’s or Yahoo’s – and with 90 percent of the search engine’s market share in the US, that bias is enormously influential.

Search results favoring one side of an issue can influence anywhere from 20 to 80 percent of undecided voters, depending on the issue and demographic group, Epstein said. He has spent six years investigating the role of what he calls the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME) in swaying public opinion, more recently focusing on the political ramifications by looking at various countries’ elections.

“People trust algorithmic output. They trust Google. They think because it’s generated by a computer, they don’t see the human hand – they think it’s impartial and objective and, because of that, their opinions change,” Epstein said.

While Google denies it manipulates search rankings to manipulate political sentiment or makes election-specific tweaks, Epstein says their response is disingenuous – he never claimed they re-ranked results, merely that the results they displayed were biased.

We found very consistently that on Google they ended up with search results favoring liberals and favoring liberal news sources, and it was quite a dramatic effect.

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May tells Brexiters in Chequers meeting she’ll quit if they vote for her Brexit deal

May has alienated too many Labour MPs and Tory Remainer ultras to win the vote.

The Duran

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Reported by Robert Peston via iTV…


I am reliably told that Theresa May told Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan Smith, Steve Baker, Jacob Rees Mogg, David Davis et al at Chequers that she will quit if they vote for her deal, including the backstop they hate.

But she gave no specifics. So there is not a lot of trust she would actually quit.

And the problem is that even if she persuades all Tory ERG MPs to vote for her unamended Withdrawal Agreement, which she won’t (because although Mogg and his supporters may succumb to her call for loyalty, Baker and the Brexiter purists will resist her blandishments) and she also successfully woos Northern Ireland’s 10 DUP, she still does not have the numbers.

May has alienated too many Labour MPs and Tory Remainer ultras (Grieve, Greening, Gyamah inter alia) to win the vote. So even with May offering herself for ritual sacrifice on the Brexiter altar, the ERG Brexiters and DUP may well say thank you very much, and vote against her anyway.

Why should they compromise their principles, and alienate their loyal supporters, for May’s doomed project?

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