Friday, June 19, 2020

Moscow’s Failure in Belarus Only Driving Other Post-Soviet States Further Away from Russia, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 16 – The editors of Moscow’s Nezavisimaya gazeta say in a lead article that Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka by his resistance to the realization of the union state with Russia has “given a push to the process of distancing themselves not just Belarus” but all other post-Soviet states as well.

            The Union State agreement has not been formally denounced, the paper notes; but experts are already saying that “the Union State is no more” and that this won’t change regardless of who wins the presidential election in Belarus because all the candidates want their country to be independent (

            Al the candidates want Belarus to have friendly relations with Russia but “neighborly ones” rather than the shackles of being part of “a single union state.”  They are committed to living and developing in their own home rather than having that “home” absorbed by someone else, in this case, Moscow.

            “Belarus is changing,” the editors say. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has not taken note of this” because he is trapped in the words of one analyst in “the perestroika-Soviet period.’”  But Moscow is similarly trapped and continues to see in Belarus “the member of a single Union State together with the Russian Federation.”

            But if the leaders do not understand that the world has changed, the citizens of Belarus do.  They want changes, including a change in relations with Russia, from those with a country that wants to absorb their own into a neighbor which will live with a Belarus that looks westward as well as eastward.

            Such emerging attitudes are not unique to the Belarus-Russian relationship, Nezavisimaya gazeta says. “The Union State is not the only integration structure on the post-Soviet space which is showing its unsteady quality.” 

            Kyrgyzstan, another country Moscow felt it could always count on, is threatening the Eurasian-Economic Union because that entity cannot overrule Kazakhstan on the restricts Nur-Sultan has imposed on Kyrgyz transportation.  And its challenge is calling into question the value of the Union there. 

            What this all means, the paper says, suggesting that there are other examples of this trend as well, is that the best Moscow can hope for is “a drawn-out” pause in its plans for integration.  At present, things are flowing in the opposite direction; and by trying to promote unity on its terms, the center is only exacerbating this development.

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