Monday, September 28, 2020

Putin Pushing Lukashenka toward Repression Because That Helps Moscow Either Way It Turns Out, Eidman Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 27 – Vladimir Putin is pushing Alyaksandr Lukashenka to repress his own people because either of the most likely outcomes will work to his advantage, Igor Eidman says. If the Belarusian dictator succeeds in gaining control of the situation, he will be grateful for Putin’s support. If he doesn’t, Putin can exploit the protest against him.

            Belarusians and the West should not be under any illusion that the Kremlin leader is acting as a restraining influence on Lukashenka, the Russian sociologist and commentator says. Just the reverse. In either case, Putin will feel the way has been opened to the Russian Anschluss of Belarus he seeks (

            Lukashenka and Putin both know that “the West will not interfere, Eidman says.  Lukashenka has been an outcast for some time, and Putin has become one. He no longer cares about the reaction of the Western powers. Promoting the use of force regardless of its short-term consequences works for Putin’s longer-term ones.

            Should Lukashenka succeed in suppressing the revolution that has risen against him, Eidman’s logic suggests, he will only confirm the view of most of the West about “the last dictator in Europe” and leave himself in a position in which he will have nowhere to turn for support or even survival than to Moscow.

            But if Lukashenka tries to suppress the Belarusians in the streets and fails, sparking violence or chaos, the West at a minimum will look the other way as it fears instability more than almost anything else and may even welcome albeit quietly an intervention by Putin and Russia to annex Belarus and quiet things down.

            For Putin, Lukashenka’s use of violence against the Belarusian nation thus is something the Kremlin leader views as a win-win situation. He certainly is indifferent to the fates of the Belarusian protesters who may be its victims.

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