Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Putin’s Denial Notwithstanding, Kremlin has Decided to Reduce Belarus to Status of South Ossetia, Sivitsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 23 – Vladimir Putin’s declaration that “today, the issue about the unification into one state of Russia and Belarus is not on the agenda” but that work toward “realizing the agreement which was signed many years ago about the establishment of the so-called union state” will continue is nothing more than “a word game,” Arseny Sivitsky says. 

            The director of the Minsk Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies says in fact Putin views the creation of “in some way of a new state with a single center a decision already taken. Undoubtedly, this center will be in Moscow” and it will have “the attributes of this state” (gazetaby.com/post/siviczkij-o-rossijskoj-ugroze-belarus-dlya-kremlya/154278/).

            The Kremlin views Belarus as “easy pickings” and plans will “de facto” mean that Belarus will “lose its sovereignty” perhaps according to “that model which Russia has arranged for South Ossetia and Abkhazia. That is, formally, these territories are considered independent but in reality, they are in ‘a union state’ with Russia’ [and] all main decisions, of course, are taken in Moscow.”

            “Approximately this very model is the one Russia would like to achieve in Belarus,” thereby transforming Belarus “into ‘a gray zone’ on the map of Europe.” Belarusians both in the regime and in civil society “must now think about how to unite their efforts in order not to allow this bad scenario to happen.”

            According to Sivitsky, “the creation of a Union state is one of the priorities for the leadership of Russia” both because it solves Putin’s 2024 problem by creating a new post for the current Kremlin ruler to occupy after that date and because it is the only thing he can do to boost his popularity given that Russia’s economy will continue to stagnate or deteriorate.

            Consequently, the Belarusian analyst says, “Russia’s aggressive behavior in foreign affairs will continue right up to 2024” with “Belarus being viewed by Kremlin strategists as easy pickings.”  Any suggestion otherwise is either outright denial of the facts or “nothing more than word play.”

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