Uladzimir Matskevich: Lukashenko does not disrupt Russian plans to annex Belarus

Aliaksei Yurych, EuroBelarus Information Service

But Lukashenko is afraid for his fate and position — he needs Belarus to be sovereign to fully exercise his power.

The next round of negotiations between Minsk and Moscow failed: the oil and gas problem was not solved, and the amount of gas debt grew to 550 million dollars.

The political contacts between the leaders of Russia and Belarus deteriorate against the background of economic conflicts. Experts fear that the Kremlin can use the military exercise “West-2017”, which will be held in Belarus this summer, to enter our country and annex Belarus under the cover of military exercises.

Are the prospects of Belarusan-Russian relations so gloomy and tragic? Uladzimir Matskevich, philosopher and methodologist, answered the questions of EuroBelarus Information Service.

— There has been an oil and gas war between Moscow and Minsk for a year already. The parties hold talks periodically but nothing has actually moved from a dead point. Why?

— If oil and gas market were regulated by the economic laws exclusively, the parties would have reached an agreement long ago.

Belarus and Russia cannot come to terms because the market of strategic energy is associated with the market of strategic arms, border security, providing strategic territory — the military-political aspect interferes here.

— But the political relations have entered the stage of "middling well" as well...

— Russia still perceives Belarus as a satellite, it wants to feel as a full-fledged owner in our territory, and the Belarusan regime actively resists this idea. Whereas previously the Belarus was busy bargaining for the economic benefits only, it is now a much sharper and broader question — sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence from Russia.

— Experts create various scenarios — from bringing the Russian troops into Belarus and a possible annexation to the gradual withering of political relations.

— There is a risk associated with the military exercise “West-2017”. Either two full experienced divisions of Russian troops or units that can leave equipped bases for troops will enter Belarus.

But this danger exists, and it is recognized by the Lukashenko himself. Such a threat disturbs the governments of Ukraine, Poland and other countries neighboring with Belarus.

— The introduction of Russian troops to Belarus is also considered as a preparation for overthrowing Lukashenko.

— There are no reasons to think so: the annexation of Belarus or taking a military-strategic control of our country (if Russia ever had such plans) does not imply getting rid of Lukashenko.

Russia has no alternative to Lukashenko as a politician; any other politician would be less predictable and less controlled by Russia. Alexander Lukashenko is afraid for his position — he needs Belarus to be sovereign to fully exercise his power.

One of the recent loud unofficial statements made by Lukashenko state that the Belarusans has not dropped a shed of blood for independence, but the threat is there. These words characterise his fear of the aspirations of the Kremlin.

— Opponents believe that Moscow has plenty of other, non-military means to completely subjugate the Belarusan regime.

— The economic levers of pressure are not enough. Let us not forget that the Russian Federation itself is under Western sanctions, the Russian economy is not in the best condition, and all that Russia can offer to the foreign markets is energy and raw materials. Therefore, if we consider the oil and gas as the joker of Russia, it can be beaten if they are not backed up by military force or at least military threats.

— Can military pressure be avoided one way or another?

— I would not hurry with a definite answer to this question.