Staunton, July 11 – Vladimir Putin is not going to absorb Belarus, Andrey Yeliseyev says. Rather it is going to reduce the real sovereignty of the republic to that of the Belorussian SSR, transforming it into “a BSSR-2” in which Minsk will retain all the public attributes of independence but in fact will be run by Moscow.
In a new commentary, the research director at the EAST Analytic Center argues “the inclusion of the inclusion of our country into the Russian Federation really will not arise, but the problem is elsewhere: the Kremlin plans to deprive Belarus of real sovereignty, to convert it into a BSSR-2, leaving it with nominal independence” (belprauda.org/krasnye-flazhki-v-soyuznom-stroitelstve-rossiya-pytaetsya-prevratit-belarus-v-bssr-2/).
Such an approach will give Moscow everything it wants without the risk of a serious reaction in Belarus or the West, because Alyaksandr Lukashenka can avoid talking about what is going on and because many in the West will assume that as long as Belarus has a flag and diplomatic representations abroad nothing has happened that it must react to.
On this issue as earlier during the economic crisis, Yeliseyev says, “Lukashenka conduct himself in the Soviet style, either minimizing or publicly denying the problem. In his April message to the parliament and the people, for example, Lukashenka did not in fact mention Russia although over the last year, this is the most important problem for the country.”
Lukashenka is clearly playing for time and may even believe that the situation is such that he can win out by employing the tactics he has in the past, the analyst says; but in fact, the Kremlin has clearly made its choice; and there is no obvious path to “salvation” for the Belarusian state.