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What Should Russia Do in Belarus? Play the Waiting Game.
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Any Russian policy towards Belarus should take into account the following considerations:

  • Lukashenko is not an ally or a friend. This does not describe a person who has accepted $100 billion worth of Russian oil/gas subsidies over the past decade, to end up doing military exercises with the Brits while denying Russian an airbase it requested.
  • The opposition are not allies or friends – and they don’t pretend to be. But while there are extreme Russophobe “zmagar” elements within them, they are not a dominant strain like they were in the runup to the Euromaidan in Ukraine.
  • Considering that by some measures, Belorussians are even more “Russophile” than South-East Ukraine – which would have easily folded into Russia in the absence of the rest of Ukraine in 2014 – the only way in which an anti-Russian oriented Belarus can be maintained long-term is only through another dictatorship.
  • The protests seem to be dying down in intensity, though whether this is permanent or not remains to be seen, considering the ham-fisted and gratuitously cruel conduct of the police. Belarus is no Singapore in the sophistication of its dictatorship. Conversely, sticking one’s neck out defending and rationalizing this tars you by association. Why do it – especially when Lukashenko has never given any cause for loyalty from Russia, anyway?
  • However, the Belorussian elites do not appear to be fracturing, and so long as that remains the case, the Lukashenko regime can be assured of survival (even if in a weakened state). This means that an overt break in relations is even less desirable.

I reduced these considerations to a “decision matrix” of possible Russian actions and Belorussian outcomes on August 10, and see no need to cardinally revise anything here.

Lukashenko wins Opposition wins
Aid Luka +0/10
  • Revolution more easily suppressed, Lukashenko emerges stronger than he would have otherwise.
  • Scant benefit as Luka doesn’t repay favors.
  • Belarusian regime still soft pedals zmagarism, putting them in positions of cultural influence while repressing Russophiles; Belarus drifts farther from the Russian world for every year Lukashenko remains in power.
-10/10
  • Energizes Belorussian society against Russia on the Ukraine model, making zmagarism (Belarusian nationalism that identifies with Lithuanian identity + Euro-Atlantic orientation) more influential.
Hurt Luka -6/10
  • Maidan suppressed, though with greater difficulty & more blood spilled.
  • In “justification”, Luka can paint oneself as standing up for Belarusian identity against Russian imperialism.
  • Only way to assure positive outcome is with military intervention (“go big or go home” principle), but there’s no casus belli.
  • Of more relevance to kremlins in particular: Don’t want to help topple fellow autocrats.
+2/10
  • Unlike Armenia, which remained pro-Russian after its color revolution, Belarus has choices, given that it is not wedged in between Turkey and Azerbaijan.
  • In a freer democracy, Russophiles will have greater freedom to promote their agendas, without being repressed by Lukashenko’s police state.
Do nothing +6/10
  • Maidan suppressed, with difficulty & more blood spilled.
  • Domestic position is further discredited, Belarus under more sanctions exacerbating existing economic problems.
  • Might not have much choice but to agree to Russian integration initiatives if situation hopeless enough & the West sends him packing.
+0/10
  • Mostly same as above, except presumably no gratitude for having helped topple Lukashenko (but it isn’t likely going to be a big factor anyway).

As we see, the “do nothing” option – for the time being – seems like the decidedly superior option to all the others. From the perspective of the Russian would, the best outcome will be a surviving but deeply wounded Lukashenko, internally discredited and externally sanctioned, who will have no choice but to accede to subsequent Russian integration proposals. For this to work smoothly, however, it is also desirable that Belorussians are not alienated by overt Russian profusions of support for their unpopular dictator.

This also seems to be more or less what Official Russia is doing.

On the one hand, the Kremlin recognized Lukashenko’s victory. However, it was not the first to do so (that was China, which has the best relations with Belarus of any major Power). Putin’s message was colder and more curt, emphasizing what Russia now expected of him:

I hope that your state activities will contribute to the further development of mutually beneficial Russian-Belorussian relations in all areas, deepening cooperation within the Union State, building up integration processes through the Eurasian Economic Union and the CIS, as well as military-political ties in the Collective Security Treaty Organization. This undoubtedly meets the fundamental interests of the fraternal peoples of Russia and Belarus.

The Russian Foreign Ministry in its public communications has also taken care to discreetly distance from Lukashenko, choosing to instead emphasize ties between peoples, not leaders:

Sovietistic formulation aside (Russians & Belorussians are not a brotherly people – they are one people), this is the correct approach.

Incidentally, many influential Russians who are unconstrained by the demands of diplomatic courtesy have been more forthright in their reactions. Konstantin Zatulin, one of the few nationalists within United Russia, has dismissed Lukashenko’s 80% result as a fake and called him a “deranged person.” Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the head of the nationalist LDPR party and unconstrained by the demands of diplomatic courtesy, was more forthright, asserting that Lukashenko has “betrayed his people”, that Belorussia has “risen up against him,” and predicting that he will be “forced to flee.” (However, unsurprisingly from a Sovietist, the Communists have supported Lukashenko’s crackdown). A number of Russians who have previously gotten awards of various kinds from Lukashenko have been handing them back in.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Belarus, Geopolitics, Russia 
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  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

  2. Never underestimate the power of doing nothing.

    Will be interesting to see what will change and what will stay the same in the next few months.

  3. Belarus doesn’t have any options. The West will never accept a dictatorship into its fold. The only reason why Korea and Taiwan got away with it – for a limited time – was because the USSR was seen a serious ideological rival in the 1960s and 1970s. As soon as the Soviet Union started to falter, tremendous pressure was put on both countries to turn democratic and they did.

    Russia is hardly a serious threat anymore the way the USSR was, so there is more leverage to the ideological wing of the ‘blob’ to make these demands from the get-go.

    If Lukashenko is deposed and Belarus would seek integration with the West then Russia would almost certainly militarily intervene. It just isn’t possible for putlet to stand by and do nothing after all he has said about unification. It would instantly de-legitimise his rule in a way that would be totally unacceptable politically. A non-starter.

    A new dictator arising in Lukashenko’s place is unlikely to be strong enough to set his own course the way Lukashenko did in the 1990s, which was aided by a temporarily weak Russia under Yeltsin. That was a one-off.

    Integration is essentially a slam dunk if Russia doesn’t fuck everything up. Which is historically a tall ask to make of it.

    • Replies: @Simpleguest
    @Thulean Friend


    The West will never accept a dictatorship into its fold. The only reason why Korea and Taiwan got away with it – for a limited time – was because the USSR was seen a serious ideological rival in the 1960s and 1970s. As soon as the Soviet Union started to falter, tremendous pressure was put on both countries to turn democratic and they did.
     
    LOL. Still waiting for Saudi Arabia and Gulf monarchies to turn democratic.
    , @Mitleser
    @Thulean Friend


    The West will never accept a dictatorship into its fold.
     
    They would.
    What they are not going to accept is someone independent-minded/unreliable who tries to play off different sides.
  4. Considering three possible scenarios below, have to agree.

    One. Luka suppresses the protests. Negative: this piece of shit remains in power and continues his weaselly “multi-vector policy”. Russia keeps subsidizing his regime, getting virtually nothing in return. Russia does not learn to depend exclusively on itself for defense. Positive: Western stirrers of color revolutions and their lapdogs feel cheated.

    Two. Midanistas win. Negative: Puppet-masters of color revolutions install rabidly anti-Russian regime, some sort of state zmagarism. Russia will have to strengthen defenses on the border with this Belarus, and that costs money. Communications with Kaliningrad would be limited to sea lines. A stream of unqualified economic refugees (like from Donbass) might become a burden. Positive: Russia stops subsidizing Belarus, saving tens of billions of $ annually. Russia builds defense system that is 100% on its own territory and does not depend on any dubious “allies”. Belarus would descent into economic cesspit even deeper and faster than Ukraine, proving that the support of globohomo is the death of any country (as if sensible people don’t know it already). Hundreds of thousands of sane, mostly qualified, Belarus workers and engineers would run away to Russia, strengthening its workforce. Belarussians who run away to Russia would increase Russian population and Russian proportion in it.

    Three. Someone more sensible than Luka (that’s a pretty low bar, BTW) deposes him, takes power, and moves the country toward deeper integration with Russia. Negative: The Empire and its sidekicks would try to come up with new sanctions against Russia. Although they have likely maxed out already, and every addition to “sanctions” is likely to hurt declining West more than Russia. Russia continues subsidizing Belorussian residents, spending lots of money. Zmagars and other scum ends up in Russia, possibly increasing the fraction of libtards in the population. Positives: Russian population and Russian proportion in it increases. Communications with Kaliningrad region become secure. Empire and its vassals are gripped with impotent rage (would look satisfying, but that would be totally useless in practical terms). Other Russian allies would feel more secure and would be emboldened to resist the dying Empire more decisively.

    Conclusion. By non-interfering, Russia wins more in the long run, although might lose some in the short term.

    • Agree: Aedib
  5. @Thulean Friend
    Belarus doesn't have any options. The West will never accept a dictatorship into its fold. The only reason why Korea and Taiwan got away with it - for a limited time - was because the USSR was seen a serious ideological rival in the 1960s and 1970s. As soon as the Soviet Union started to falter, tremendous pressure was put on both countries to turn democratic and they did.

    Russia is hardly a serious threat anymore the way the USSR was, so there is more leverage to the ideological wing of the 'blob' to make these demands from the get-go.

    If Lukashenko is deposed and Belarus would seek integration with the West then Russia would almost certainly militarily intervene. It just isn't possible for putlet to stand by and do nothing after all he has said about unification. It would instantly de-legitimise his rule in a way that would be totally unacceptable politically. A non-starter.

    A new dictator arising in Lukashenko's place is unlikely to be strong enough to set his own course the way Lukashenko did in the 1990s, which was aided by a temporarily weak Russia under Yeltsin. That was a one-off.

    Integration is essentially a slam dunk if Russia doesn't fuck everything up. Which is historically a tall ask to make of it.

    Replies: @Simpleguest, @Mitleser

    The West will never accept a dictatorship into its fold. The only reason why Korea and Taiwan got away with it – for a limited time – was because the USSR was seen a serious ideological rival in the 1960s and 1970s. As soon as the Soviet Union started to falter, tremendous pressure was put on both countries to turn democratic and they did.

    LOL. Still waiting for Saudi Arabia and Gulf monarchies to turn democratic.

  6. I wonder if we shouldnt go full support for the Belarus society against Lukachenko. Lukachenko is our enemy , has proven it by making a pro west u-turn , and on top of that , he is a politician without future ( if what we learned on this blog about his true popularity is true) . We need to get our hands on the opposition because they are the future. Plus doing this will put even more pressure on Lukach and make him learn what it costs to fuck up with us and take our guys in hostages,send a powerful message for all our ” allies” ,and will make him more open to concessions in future negotiations . If Lukachenko plays the ” indépendance of Russia ” card then we will call him a pro West fascist and replace him with little green men like we did in Crimea and Donbass.

    In all cases , every Belarus government will be forced to seek an agreement with Russia as without it the Belarus economy will sink. We can could ultimately just put sanctions on Belarus and they will be forced to do as they are told.

    • Agree: AltanBakshi
    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
    @Maïkl Makfaïl


    every Belarus government will be forced to seek an agreement with Russia as without it the Belarus economy will sink.
     
    Not true. Imperial puppets in Ukraine tanked its economy without missing a beat. Simply because they obey their puppet-masters and don’t care about their country. The same scenario can be played out in Belarus. The Empire does not give a hoot about aborigines in any Bantustan.

    Replies: @AltanBakshi, @Maïkl Makfaïl

  7. The protests seem to be dying down in intensity

    At the risk of sounding crass, are you even following the news? The exact opposite is happening. The biggest firms are striking, such as Belaz, Maz, belarus azot and dozens of others. In sharp contrast to your mocking glib remarks on twitter yesterday “haha only one plant is on strike LOL”. Who is laughing now?

    I predict that luka is on his final legs. I predict that you, Karlin, once again let your internal biases muddy your vision (just as in the case of a ‘stellar russian response to covid’).

    • Troll: Anatoly Karlin
  8. I agree with all that is being said about Lukashenko- I am still amazed about how badly he has played this.
    Sucking up to the west who had no intention of playing fare.

    I am disgusted by the foolishness of the young people going out on the street for what ???? Does anyone know

    Free elections is bullshit – the west just want Luka gone

    Anyway Russia just should sit back and observe and make the odd supportive statement

    The key to this for Russia is economic leverage

    Russian is by far the biggest importer of goods from Belarus and Russian goods are exported to Belarus.

    Over 50% of trade both ways takes place
    China is no where near this neither is the EU. USA etc

    Who ever leads Belarus cannot expect Russia to subsidise their nationalistic pro western ambitions.

    Union state could actually be a positive spur for Belarus and Russia – educated workforce and support for new enterprises. Military security is a big bonus

    Absorbing 9 million will be hard – especially the nationalists ones – but they should be encouraged to leave!!!

    Ukraine is a disaster with 30/40 million poor people

    Russia took Crimea and that was all Ukraine had of value – only the people in the Donbas are worthy of support.

    Belarus people should open their eyes and don’t become like Ukraine

    The end of the Soviet Union produced some not very viable countries like the end of Yugoslavia countries that cannot survive without subsidies

    The EU provides money to many of these countries but for how long ?

    Poland is only realtively successful because it got free money not loans – but it still sucks off the EU even after all these years

    Russia / Kazakhstan / Azerbaijan who have natural resources are the only real viable countries

    • Agree: Aedib
    • Replies: @joni
    @Colour revolution


    Anyway Russia just should sit back and observe and make the odd supportive statement

    The key to this for Russia is economic leverage
     

    The Kyrgyzstan model worked really well, even though they ended up with a government just as effective as the previous one (just like the Ukrainians have). I think Poland is playing a very negative role in this area, trying to flip everything into an anti-Russian event until they can catch their whale. It would be better if Russia would engage the Polish right-wing numpties (like Jacek Saryusz-Wolski) in a fight, just to keep them busy.
  9. Shouldn’t Belarusians be left to choose their own destiny? The general consensus seems to be that the Scots should be allowed to become independent of the UK if and when they choose, and most of the world would take a very dim view of London attempting to stop that, which is why Westminster allowed a referendum and honoured the result (which was remain part of the UK), and will inevitably have to allow another post-Brexit which the result could easily be independence and Scotland joining the EU as an independent country.

    • Replies: @Matra
    @Europe Europa

    No responsible Russian government can ignore the security implications of a pro-NATO regime in Belarus, much as British/English governments in the past could not ignore a powerful foreign power taking the Low countries or potentially using Ireland as a springboard to attack England. If the Americans weren't still in Europe I suppose it would be different.

    Replies: @Europe Europa

    , @Svevlad
    @Europe Europa

    Unlike west Euros who have a very live and let live attitude (which will bite em in the ass, but they're too cuckmopolitan to care) regarding nationalities and "peopledom" - east euros know that diversity bad and that protonational LARPs should be shut down in the cradle.

    It's a globalism horseshoe - when you pull the two ends to their extreme, on one end you have globohomo by melting everyone down into the perfect consumer with no identity, and on the other you have another global homogenization of forced assimilation and subjugation

    , @Hyperborean
    @Europe Europa


    Shouldn’t Belarusians be left to choose their own destiny? The general consensus seems to be that the Scots should be allowed to become independent of the UK if and when they choose, and most of the world would take a very dim view of London attempting to stop that, which is why Westminster allowed a referendum and honoured the result (which was remain part of the UK), and will inevitably have to allow another post-Brexit which the result could easily be independence and Scotland joining the EU as an independent country.
     
    Obviously wrong, if liberal British politicians had wished to stamp down the idea of fake-nationalist Scottish separatism in 2014 the "international community" would have cared about it as little as they did when social democratic Spain stamped down fake-nationalist Catalonian separatism.
    , @gT
    @Europe Europa

    In practical realpolitik "if you do not control something, this ‘something’ will be controlled by somebody else". So Russia in incorrect in playing the waiting game in Belarus, only Russia is not playing the waiting game.

    Russia is playing the frustrating the opposition game . While Stalin would simply have taken over Belarus, Russia's game is more geared towards frustrating and stalemating other countries in a place like Belarus.

    But this ‘pissing off the opposition’ in a region kind of krieg because you know the opposition doesn’t want to come to blows because the opposition is casualty adverse is not elegant, the Stalin strategy of just sending in the tanks and waiting until the dust clears is so much more respectable.

  10. @Europe Europa
    Shouldn't Belarusians be left to choose their own destiny? The general consensus seems to be that the Scots should be allowed to become independent of the UK if and when they choose, and most of the world would take a very dim view of London attempting to stop that, which is why Westminster allowed a referendum and honoured the result (which was remain part of the UK), and will inevitably have to allow another post-Brexit which the result could easily be independence and Scotland joining the EU as an independent country.

    Replies: @Matra, @Svevlad, @Hyperborean, @gT

    No responsible Russian government can ignore the security implications of a pro-NATO regime in Belarus, much as British/English governments in the past could not ignore a powerful foreign power taking the Low countries or potentially using Ireland as a springboard to attack England. If the Americans weren’t still in Europe I suppose it would be different.

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
    • Replies: @Europe Europa
    @Matra

    Scotland and probably NI as EU vassal states in the former UK wouldn't be very good for Brexit Britain either, they would essentially allow Brussels to continue enforcing their rules indirectly on Britain, especially if NI is given special status to remain both part of the EU and part of the UK, which is what the EU wants.

  11. Scotland will never be independant from england for the same reason Ukraine ans Belarus will never be independant from Russia: England is a much important trade partner for Scotland than the EU. And if it tries to cut those ties it will follow the same fate as Ukraine in 2014.

    And Great Britain also did Brexit because trade with the US was more important than trade with EU.

    Countries always follow their economic interests before anything else.

    Not that i would dislike the idea of an independant Scotland as a Russian patriot though.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    @Maïkl Makfaïl

    Depending on how you count it, UK-US trade is between a quarter and a half of EU trade. Most prospects for expansion involve the destruction of UK farming.

    Replies: @Maïkl Makfaïl

  12. @Maïkl Makfaïl
    I wonder if we shouldnt go full support for the Belarus society against Lukachenko. Lukachenko is our enemy , has proven it by making a pro west u-turn , and on top of that , he is a politician without future ( if what we learned on this blog about his true popularity is true) . We need to get our hands on the opposition because they are the future. Plus doing this will put even more pressure on Lukach and make him learn what it costs to fuck up with us and take our guys in hostages,send a powerful message for all our " allies" ,and will make him more open to concessions in future negotiations . If Lukachenko plays the " indépendance of Russia " card then we will call him a pro West fascist and replace him with little green men like we did in Crimea and Donbass.

    In all cases , every Belarus government will be forced to seek an agreement with Russia as without it the Belarus economy will sink. We can could ultimately just put sanctions on Belarus and they will be forced to do as they are told.

    Replies: @AnonFromTN

    every Belarus government will be forced to seek an agreement with Russia as without it the Belarus economy will sink.

    Not true. Imperial puppets in Ukraine tanked its economy without missing a beat. Simply because they obey their puppet-masters and don’t care about their country. The same scenario can be played out in Belarus. The Empire does not give a hoot about aborigines in any Bantustan.

    • Replies: @AltanBakshi
    @AnonFromTN

    Economy of Belarus is much more intertwined with Russia than Ukraines was. So I dont know if Ukraine is apt comparison. But I agree that Atlanticists dont care at all about the aborigines.

    , @Maïkl Makfaïl
    @AnonFromTN

    Yeah well the Empire and its slaves of course dont give a damn about it but the people do. If Belarus collapses économically it will be another bad publicity for the West , and will further push the population towards Moscow .

  13. @Matra
    @Europe Europa

    No responsible Russian government can ignore the security implications of a pro-NATO regime in Belarus, much as British/English governments in the past could not ignore a powerful foreign power taking the Low countries or potentially using Ireland as a springboard to attack England. If the Americans weren't still in Europe I suppose it would be different.

    Replies: @Europe Europa

    Scotland and probably NI as EU vassal states in the former UK wouldn’t be very good for Brexit Britain either, they would essentially allow Brussels to continue enforcing their rules indirectly on Britain, especially if NI is given special status to remain both part of the EU and part of the UK, which is what the EU wants.

  14. I just repeat me previous message

    Time is clocking for Luka. Vlad should convince him to accept the position of President of Confederation of all Rus after this LAST period as Belarusian president. Lukashenko should organize his retirement “a la Wise Nursultan”. Same goes on for Vlad. He should start to think about a hawkish successor (Gerasimov?) and reserve for himself the position of head of the State Council.

    • Agree: Svevlad
  15. @Europe Europa
    Shouldn't Belarusians be left to choose their own destiny? The general consensus seems to be that the Scots should be allowed to become independent of the UK if and when they choose, and most of the world would take a very dim view of London attempting to stop that, which is why Westminster allowed a referendum and honoured the result (which was remain part of the UK), and will inevitably have to allow another post-Brexit which the result could easily be independence and Scotland joining the EU as an independent country.

    Replies: @Matra, @Svevlad, @Hyperborean, @gT

    Unlike west Euros who have a very live and let live attitude (which will bite em in the ass, but they’re too cuckmopolitan to care) regarding nationalities and “peopledom” – east euros know that diversity bad and that protonational LARPs should be shut down in the cradle.

    It’s a globalism horseshoe – when you pull the two ends to their extreme, on one end you have globohomo by melting everyone down into the perfect consumer with no identity, and on the other you have another global homogenization of forced assimilation and subjugation

  16. If Russia tried to hurt Lukashenko and Lukashenko would still continue holding of power in Belarus, I think that it would be impossible that Belarus would get any help from the EU. It would be a complete propaganda disaster for the Western countries if they would try to support a dictator in the heart of the Europe after that dictator has bloodily repressed democratic protests against his rule. The cognitive dissonance would be too great. Some ignoramuses on this site think that it would be equivalent of supporting of Gulf monarchies , and the West still could support openly illiberal regimes in Europe, but even many liberal politicians in the west have not lost all their touch on reality and know that alternative would be possibly Islamic democratic and unstable governments which are much harder to deal than cronyist and corrupt monarchs. Also the cultural difference and proximity is much, much larger between the west and Gulf countries, therefore it makes more sense to support absolutist monarchies of the Gulf than it would be supporting Lukashenko. Even better is that those Gulf monarchies use US Dollars when selling oil.

    Although it would be a funny scenario, Belarus in which EU supported Lukashenko would have crushed Russia supported Maidan. But that scenario is totally impossible and silly. Lukashenko after all has no choices left, but maybe he has played the insecurities of Russian siloviki? After all its strange that he has gotten so much form Russia and Russia has gotten so little from Belarus?

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    @AltanBakshi

    You're probably right. Lukashenko might try to transform Belarus into some kind of zmagarist-socialist 80s Romania type place, perhaps buffed by Chinese-style cyber panopticon + social credit system. And there is, perhaps surprisingly, a lot of synergy between Lukashenkoism and the MAGA + Based Poland/Ukraine crowd; even if EU is hostile, there might be a positive relation with Polish Intermarium projects. But yes, overall, it's hard to see influential Western factions going out to bat for a Belarusian dictatorship, even a zmagarist one.

    Optimal strategy IMO is to push against Lukashenko to the maximal extent possible, but stopping short of toppling him. But if we miscalculate and he does fall, it likely won't be catastrophic as in the Ukraine for aforementioned reasons.

    Replies: @Ludwig, @AltanBakshi

    , @AnonFromTN
    @AltanBakshi


    It would be a complete propaganda disaster for the Western countries if they would try to support a dictator in the heart of the Europe after that dictator has bloodily repressed democratic protests against his rule.
     
    You wrongly assume that European politicians are fastidious. They are not. The main strength of Europe is hypocrisy. It’s the mainstay of its policies. It includes doublethink. Europe (in its role of an obsequious imperial vassal) is supporting at least two states run by mafia bosses guilty of murder: Kosovo and Montenegro. Compared to that an ordinary dictator is almost a benevolent figure. Both these statelets are geographically closer to the Old Europe than Belarus. Also, Europe (in the same imperial vassal role) supports jihadists in Syria who committed and keep committing many heinous crimes.

    I would not put any additional disgusting deeds past European politicians.

    Replies: @AltanBakshi

    , @Simpleguest
    @AltanBakshi


    Some ignoramuses on this site think that it would be equivalent of supporting of Gulf monarchies , and the West still could support openly illiberal regimes in Europe, but even many liberal politicians in the west have not lost all their touch on reality and know that alternative would be possibly Islamic democratic and unstable governments which are much harder to deal than cronyist and corrupt monarchs.
     
    Nothing prevented them from doing exactly that in Libya.

    I think you strayed too much. This is an issue of hypocrisy (as Anon from TN already said).
    A hypocrisy is just that, hypocrisy, no matter how hard one tries to rationalize it with real-politik.
    So statements like "West will never support a dictator" deserve a LOL.

    Unless it's ammended to say "West will never support a dictator in Europe and North East Asia". Other subhumans can do whatever the hell they want as long as they "play ball" and keep selling resources for dollars.

  17. @AnonFromTN
    @Maïkl Makfaïl


    every Belarus government will be forced to seek an agreement with Russia as without it the Belarus economy will sink.
     
    Not true. Imperial puppets in Ukraine tanked its economy without missing a beat. Simply because they obey their puppet-masters and don’t care about their country. The same scenario can be played out in Belarus. The Empire does not give a hoot about aborigines in any Bantustan.

    Replies: @AltanBakshi, @Maïkl Makfaïl

    Economy of Belarus is much more intertwined with Russia than Ukraines was. So I dont know if Ukraine is apt comparison. But I agree that Atlanticists dont care at all about the aborigines.

  18. @AltanBakshi
    If Russia tried to hurt Lukashenko and Lukashenko would still continue holding of power in Belarus, I think that it would be impossible that Belarus would get any help from the EU. It would be a complete propaganda disaster for the Western countries if they would try to support a dictator in the heart of the Europe after that dictator has bloodily repressed democratic protests against his rule. The cognitive dissonance would be too great. Some ignoramuses on this site think that it would be equivalent of supporting of Gulf monarchies , and the West still could support openly illiberal regimes in Europe, but even many liberal politicians in the west have not lost all their touch on reality and know that alternative would be possibly Islamic democratic and unstable governments which are much harder to deal than cronyist and corrupt monarchs. Also the cultural difference and proximity is much, much larger between the west and Gulf countries, therefore it makes more sense to support absolutist monarchies of the Gulf than it would be supporting Lukashenko. Even better is that those Gulf monarchies use US Dollars when selling oil.

    Although it would be a funny scenario, Belarus in which EU supported Lukashenko would have crushed Russia supported Maidan. But that scenario is totally impossible and silly. Lukashenko after all has no choices left, but maybe he has played the insecurities of Russian siloviki? After all its strange that he has gotten so much form Russia and Russia has gotten so little from Belarus?

    Replies: @Anatoly Karlin, @AnonFromTN, @Simpleguest

    You’re probably right. Lukashenko might try to transform Belarus into some kind of zmagarist-socialist 80s Romania type place, perhaps buffed by Chinese-style cyber panopticon + social credit system. And there is, perhaps surprisingly, a lot of synergy between Lukashenkoism and the MAGA + Based Poland/Ukraine crowd; even if EU is hostile, there might be a positive relation with Polish Intermarium projects. But yes, overall, it’s hard to see influential Western factions going out to bat for a Belarusian dictatorship, even a zmagarist one.

    Optimal strategy IMO is to push against Lukashenko to the maximal extent possible, but stopping short of toppling him. But if we miscalculate and he does fall, it likely won’t be catastrophic as in the Ukraine for aforementioned reasons.

    • Replies: @Ludwig
    @Anatoly Karlin

    From the various noises coming from the US and via its East European vassals, the Empire has thrown their weight against Lukashenko and “for the people”. The US it appears is calculating that it can gain popularity with the Belarusian populace by this measure and an eventual popular leader. It’s not a bad bet.

    This presents Russia with two problems. One with Belarus and one domestically.

    Re Belarus: Lukashenko is an odious figure who has not done much for Russia except for one thing: he has not gone too far against Russia. He has played a clever game essentially trying to blackmail the Kremlin by saying “Support me or I’ll sell out to the US”. In the absence of a truly popular leader who will ally with the Kremlin - and Lukashenko has made sure that none appeared, it appears that the Kremlin has had little choice but to grin and bear it. But at the expense of alienating many Belorussians sick of Lukashenko.

    So the trick for the Kremlin is to show support for the Belorussian people while at the same time toeing the line with Lukashenko - so he doesn’t make more deals with the West - but who many Belorussians detest.

    The other problem is domestic: support from the Kremlin for Lukashenko may disgust many Russians who see that their fraternal peoples being beaten up by Lukashenko’s forces and cause/add to discontent against the Kremlin. Again, these Russians may see the US acting in a more principled way supporting the people (though of course the US is thoroughly calculating).

    The Kremlin is in a bit of a zugzwang, and has to pick its way carefully. It would no doubt prefer a scenario where a popular pro-Russian leader who will accelerate the Union State came to the fore but this seems unlikely.

    , @AltanBakshi
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Do you really believe that Polish Intermarium project is viable and workable? Beyond small and marginal military cooperation between Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, there isnt anything tangible. Poland and its neighbours would need a capability for an independent foreign policy to make somekind of confederation possible. And even if they could, where is the funding? All those Baltic statelets and the rest are dependent on EU money. It would be a truly mad time when Germany and France would finance Polish superpower ambitions, so that Poland could create a counterpole or counter axis in Europe that had different values and aims than EU. Collapse of the Eu would be a more realistic scenario than USA, Germany and France allowing illiberal and "based", right wing Polish led Eastern European alliance. Karlin its time for the reality check for this case would be against the core interests of the western establishment. But many Ruthenian commentators from USA on this site have lost their touch on reality(at least on East Europe) and celebrate fantasies of resurgent PLC.

    Replies: @AP, @Aedib

  19. Haw about nurturing a handpicked “Siberian candidate” for the next presidential race? It is feasible.

  20. @AltanBakshi
    If Russia tried to hurt Lukashenko and Lukashenko would still continue holding of power in Belarus, I think that it would be impossible that Belarus would get any help from the EU. It would be a complete propaganda disaster for the Western countries if they would try to support a dictator in the heart of the Europe after that dictator has bloodily repressed democratic protests against his rule. The cognitive dissonance would be too great. Some ignoramuses on this site think that it would be equivalent of supporting of Gulf monarchies , and the West still could support openly illiberal regimes in Europe, but even many liberal politicians in the west have not lost all their touch on reality and know that alternative would be possibly Islamic democratic and unstable governments which are much harder to deal than cronyist and corrupt monarchs. Also the cultural difference and proximity is much, much larger between the west and Gulf countries, therefore it makes more sense to support absolutist monarchies of the Gulf than it would be supporting Lukashenko. Even better is that those Gulf monarchies use US Dollars when selling oil.

    Although it would be a funny scenario, Belarus in which EU supported Lukashenko would have crushed Russia supported Maidan. But that scenario is totally impossible and silly. Lukashenko after all has no choices left, but maybe he has played the insecurities of Russian siloviki? After all its strange that he has gotten so much form Russia and Russia has gotten so little from Belarus?

    Replies: @Anatoly Karlin, @AnonFromTN, @Simpleguest

    It would be a complete propaganda disaster for the Western countries if they would try to support a dictator in the heart of the Europe after that dictator has bloodily repressed democratic protests against his rule.

    You wrongly assume that European politicians are fastidious. They are not. The main strength of Europe is hypocrisy. It’s the mainstay of its policies. It includes doublethink. Europe (in its role of an obsequious imperial vassal) is supporting at least two states run by mafia bosses guilty of murder: Kosovo and Montenegro. Compared to that an ordinary dictator is almost a benevolent figure. Both these statelets are geographically closer to the Old Europe than Belarus. Also, Europe (in the same imperial vassal role) supports jihadists in Syria who committed and keep committing many heinous crimes.

    I would not put any additional disgusting deeds past European politicians.

    • Replies: @AltanBakshi
    @AnonFromTN


    I would not put any additional disgusting deeds past European politicians.
     
    Yes, yes, but they also must think of the public perception.
  21. @Europe Europa
    Shouldn't Belarusians be left to choose their own destiny? The general consensus seems to be that the Scots should be allowed to become independent of the UK if and when they choose, and most of the world would take a very dim view of London attempting to stop that, which is why Westminster allowed a referendum and honoured the result (which was remain part of the UK), and will inevitably have to allow another post-Brexit which the result could easily be independence and Scotland joining the EU as an independent country.

    Replies: @Matra, @Svevlad, @Hyperborean, @gT

    Shouldn’t Belarusians be left to choose their own destiny? The general consensus seems to be that the Scots should be allowed to become independent of the UK if and when they choose, and most of the world would take a very dim view of London attempting to stop that, which is why Westminster allowed a referendum and honoured the result (which was remain part of the UK), and will inevitably have to allow another post-Brexit which the result could easily be independence and Scotland joining the EU as an independent country.

    Obviously wrong, if liberal British politicians had wished to stamp down the idea of fake-nationalist Scottish separatism in 2014 the “international community” would have cared about it as little as they did when social democratic Spain stamped down fake-nationalist Catalonian separatism.

  22. @AnonFromTN
    @Maïkl Makfaïl


    every Belarus government will be forced to seek an agreement with Russia as without it the Belarus economy will sink.
     
    Not true. Imperial puppets in Ukraine tanked its economy without missing a beat. Simply because they obey their puppet-masters and don’t care about their country. The same scenario can be played out in Belarus. The Empire does not give a hoot about aborigines in any Bantustan.

    Replies: @AltanBakshi, @Maïkl Makfaïl

    Yeah well the Empire and its slaves of course dont give a damn about it but the people do. If Belarus collapses économically it will be another bad publicity for the West , and will further push the population towards Moscow .

  23. Shank himself has a limited shelf life unless he’s been granted a courtesy supply of adrenochrome by the Empire. Plus more time gives the Israeli-US complex more time to make more ham-fisted mistakes, engage in in-fighting and otherwise be their charming selves.

    Time is on Russia’s side here.

  24. @Maïkl Makfaïl
    Scotland will never be independant from england for the same reason Ukraine ans Belarus will never be independant from Russia: England is a much important trade partner for Scotland than the EU. And if it tries to cut those ties it will follow the same fate as Ukraine in 2014.

    And Great Britain also did Brexit because trade with the US was more important than trade with EU.

    Countries always follow their economic interests before anything else.

    Not that i would dislike the idea of an independant Scotland as a Russian patriot though.

    Replies: @Philip Owen

    Depending on how you count it, UK-US trade is between a quarter and a half of EU trade. Most prospects for expansion involve the destruction of UK farming.

    • Replies: @Maïkl Makfaïl
    @Philip Owen

    Yes you are right, sorry i confused the US with the rest of the world , in other worlds non-EU countries. But still, according to the data i have , in 2016, 57 % of British exports were oriented towards non-EU countries in the world, which clearly means that the EU was not the main partner of GB. And the US are the top clients of British exports, they represent 19% of British exports while Germany is the distant second with only 9% . In fact even if you ad up Germany , France and italy, their combined weight in british exports is inferior to the share of the US.

    So Brexit was indeed commercialy well-founded.

    Replies: @utu, @LondonBob, @Philip Owen

  25. Wait and see is Putin’s default strategy.

    Just now there is no organized opposition to Lukashenko and no good mechanism to replace him in the absence of a party system. So Lukashenko can win this round by brutality and maybe some promises of reform. It is the 2004 Orange revolution in Ukraine not 2014. He might resign anyway if Putin gives him a safe way out and supports a chosen successor. An EU country might do the same. France?

    If he stays, Lukashenko loses the next round. The security services police will want to see more than simple repression if they are to defend him again. There will be organized opposition with leadership, demands and direction. There may well also be Russian organized cells as well. Polarization will take place but Luka will not be supported by either pole. He will fall. The second round needs a trigger. It won’t take 10 years.

    The Donbass insurgency depended on unemployed disaffected 40 years olds tempted by Girkin’s $300 a month. It isn’t like that in Belarus. Peasants and factories not unemployed miners and steelworkers.

  26. @AltanBakshi
    If Russia tried to hurt Lukashenko and Lukashenko would still continue holding of power in Belarus, I think that it would be impossible that Belarus would get any help from the EU. It would be a complete propaganda disaster for the Western countries if they would try to support a dictator in the heart of the Europe after that dictator has bloodily repressed democratic protests against his rule. The cognitive dissonance would be too great. Some ignoramuses on this site think that it would be equivalent of supporting of Gulf monarchies , and the West still could support openly illiberal regimes in Europe, but even many liberal politicians in the west have not lost all their touch on reality and know that alternative would be possibly Islamic democratic and unstable governments which are much harder to deal than cronyist and corrupt monarchs. Also the cultural difference and proximity is much, much larger between the west and Gulf countries, therefore it makes more sense to support absolutist monarchies of the Gulf than it would be supporting Lukashenko. Even better is that those Gulf monarchies use US Dollars when selling oil.

    Although it would be a funny scenario, Belarus in which EU supported Lukashenko would have crushed Russia supported Maidan. But that scenario is totally impossible and silly. Lukashenko after all has no choices left, but maybe he has played the insecurities of Russian siloviki? After all its strange that he has gotten so much form Russia and Russia has gotten so little from Belarus?

    Replies: @Anatoly Karlin, @AnonFromTN, @Simpleguest

    Some ignoramuses on this site think that it would be equivalent of supporting of Gulf monarchies , and the West still could support openly illiberal regimes in Europe, but even many liberal politicians in the west have not lost all their touch on reality and know that alternative would be possibly Islamic democratic and unstable governments which are much harder to deal than cronyist and corrupt monarchs.

    Nothing prevented them from doing exactly that in Libya.

    I think you strayed too much. This is an issue of hypocrisy (as Anon from TN already said).
    A hypocrisy is just that, hypocrisy, no matter how hard one tries to rationalize it with real-politik.
    So statements like “West will never support a dictator” deserve a LOL.

    Unless it’s ammended to say “West will never support a dictator in Europe and North East Asia”. Other subhumans can do whatever the hell they want as long as they “play ball” and keep selling resources for dollars.

  27. For Christ sake, just let the people of Belarussia, Russia and Ukraine vote if they want to live together in one country again or not.
    I am more than certain the answer will be a resounding yes.
    Just finish this ridiculous agony.

    • Replies: @Aedib
    @Simpleguest


    I am more than certain the answer will be a resounding yes.
     
    The West will get instantaneously hysterical and start any possible destabilization move. The “yes” will be a slow motion process.
    , @Philip Owen
    @Simpleguest

    They did vote in Ukraine before separation and the answer wasn't yes even in the Donbass. Only the retired Russian sailors in Sebastapol voted to keep the USSR.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Ukrainian_independence_referendum

    Replies: @Anatoly Karlin

  28. @Simpleguest
    For Christ sake, just let the people of Belarussia, Russia and Ukraine vote if they want to live together in one country again or not.
    I am more than certain the answer will be a resounding yes.
    Just finish this ridiculous agony.

    Replies: @Aedib, @Philip Owen

    I am more than certain the answer will be a resounding yes.

    The West will get instantaneously hysterical and start any possible destabilization move. The “yes” will be a slow motion process.

  29. @Simpleguest
    For Christ sake, just let the people of Belarussia, Russia and Ukraine vote if they want to live together in one country again or not.
    I am more than certain the answer will be a resounding yes.
    Just finish this ridiculous agony.

    Replies: @Aedib, @Philip Owen

    They did vote in Ukraine before separation and the answer wasn’t yes even in the Donbass. Only the retired Russian sailors in Sebastapol voted to keep the USSR.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Ukrainian_independence_referendum

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    @Philip Owen

    That vote was predicated on the false understanding that a new Union treaty would replace the current one. The people were misled.


    That helps explain the incongruous result of the December 1991 referendum in Ukraine, which is usually cited as conclusive evidence of a popular nationalist revolution. In this instance, 90 percent of the turnout voted for “independence” even though nine months before, in the March referendum, 70 percent of Ukrainians (and 80 percent in a supplementary ballot) had voted for the Union. Ukraine, along with Russia, Belarus, and Western Kazakhstan, were the Slavic core of the Soviet Union. And when Yeltsin, Kravchuk, and, following their lead, the leader of tiny Belarus abolished it a few days later, they used the December referendum as justification.
    In Ukraine, there was already “considerable confusion” over the words “sovereignty” and “independence,” which were being used almost interchangeably and manipulated by the former Communist elite, turned nationalist and headed by Kravchuk.41 Protesting Kravchuk’s use of the referendum vote, Gorbachev could tell him “with some justice,” as an American scholar notes, that other republics had declared independence without it meaning an “obligatory exit from the Union.”
    (A decade later, 60 percent of Ukrainians favored some kind of union with Russia and only 46.5 percent said they would have voted for a referendum on independence.)
     
    From Stephen Cohen's Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives.

    Replies: @AP, @Philip Owen

  30. @Colour revolution
    I agree with all that is being said about Lukashenko- I am still amazed about how badly he has played this.
    Sucking up to the west who had no intention of playing fare.

    I am disgusted by the foolishness of the young people going out on the street for what ???? Does anyone know

    Free elections is bullshit - the west just want Luka gone


    Anyway Russia just should sit back and observe and make the odd supportive statement

    The key to this for Russia is economic leverage

    Russian is by far the biggest importer of goods from Belarus and Russian goods are exported to Belarus.

    Over 50% of trade both ways takes place
    China is no where near this neither is the EU. USA etc

    Who ever leads Belarus cannot expect Russia to subsidise their nationalistic pro western ambitions.

    Union state could actually be a positive spur for Belarus and Russia - educated workforce and support for new enterprises. Military security is a big bonus

    Absorbing 9 million will be hard - especially the nationalists ones - but they should be encouraged to leave!!!

    Ukraine is a disaster with 30/40 million poor people

    Russia took Crimea and that was all Ukraine had of value - only the people in the Donbas are worthy of support.

    Belarus people should open their eyes and don’t become like Ukraine

    The end of the Soviet Union produced some not very viable countries like the end of Yugoslavia countries that cannot survive without subsidies

    The EU provides money to many of these countries but for how long ?

    Poland is only realtively successful because it got free money not loans - but it still sucks off the EU even after all these years

    Russia / Kazakhstan / Azerbaijan who have natural resources are the only real viable countries

    Replies: @joni

    Anyway Russia just should sit back and observe and make the odd supportive statement

    The key to this for Russia is economic leverage

    The Kyrgyzstan model worked really well, even though they ended up with a government just as effective as the previous one (just like the Ukrainians have). I think Poland is playing a very negative role in this area, trying to flip everything into an anti-Russian event until they can catch their whale. It would be better if Russia would engage the Polish right-wing numpties (like Jacek Saryusz-Wolski) in a fight, just to keep them busy.

  31. @Philip Owen
    @Simpleguest

    They did vote in Ukraine before separation and the answer wasn't yes even in the Donbass. Only the retired Russian sailors in Sebastapol voted to keep the USSR.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Ukrainian_independence_referendum

    Replies: @Anatoly Karlin

    That vote was predicated on the false understanding that a new Union treaty would replace the current one. The people were misled.

    That helps explain the incongruous result of the December 1991 referendum in Ukraine, which is usually cited as conclusive evidence of a popular nationalist revolution. In this instance, 90 percent of the turnout voted for “independence” even though nine months before, in the March referendum, 70 percent of Ukrainians (and 80 percent in a supplementary ballot) had voted for the Union. Ukraine, along with Russia, Belarus, and Western Kazakhstan, were the Slavic core of the Soviet Union. And when Yeltsin, Kravchuk, and, following their lead, the leader of tiny Belarus abolished it a few days later, they used the December referendum as justification.
    In Ukraine, there was already “considerable confusion” over the words “sovereignty” and “independence,” which were being used almost interchangeably and manipulated by the former Communist elite, turned nationalist and headed by Kravchuk.41 Protesting Kravchuk’s use of the referendum vote, Gorbachev could tell him “with some justice,” as an American scholar notes, that other republics had declared independence without it meaning an “obligatory exit from the Union.”
    (A decade later, 60 percent of Ukrainians favored some kind of union with Russia and only 46.5 percent said they would have voted for a referendum on independence.)

    From Stephen Cohen’s Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives.

    • Replies: @AP
    @Anatoly Karlin


    That helps explain the incongruous result of the December 1991 referendum in Ukraine, which is usually cited as conclusive evidence of a popular nationalist revolution. In this instance, 90 percent of the turnout voted for “independence” even though nine months before, in the March referendum, 70 percent of Ukrainians (and 80 percent in a supplementary ballot) had voted for the Union.
     
    Stephen Cohen offers a very tendentious interpretation of Ukraine's referendums and reveals himself to be either mistaken about a very fundamental thing (doubtful) or dishonest (more likely).

    There was nothing "incongruous" about the two referenda. The first one in March represented a huge break from the USSR by asking if people wanted Ukraine to be sovereign. The questions were:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Ukrainian_sovereignty_referendum

    " Do you consider necessary the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics in which the rights and freedom of an individual of any nationality will be fully guaranteed? " 71% voted Yes.

    The second question was "Do you agree that Ukraine should be part of a Union of Soviet Sovereign States on the basis on the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine?" 82% voted Yes.

    Declaration of State Sovereignty was de facto independence:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_State_Sovereignty_of_Ukraine

    "The document decreed that Ukrainian SSR laws took precedence over the laws of the USSR, and declared that the Ukrainian SSR would maintain its own army and its own national bank with the power to introduce its own currency.[2] The declaration also proclaimed that the republic has intent to become in a future "a permanently neutral state that does not participate in military blocs,"

    So 82% of Ukrainians voted to have a state whose laws were supreme on Ukrainian territory, that had its own currency, and its own army that would not be in an alliance with the army of Russia. The USSR would be transformed into something like the EU, but with no NATO, and with no Euro.

    Cohen twists this around to mean they simply voted to keep the USSR and then claims that somehow this doesn't match the result of the independence referendum a few months later.

    Formal independence itself wasn't an option on that March referendum. Nationalists were ecstatic that 82% of Ukrainians voted for sovereignty (own laws, own army, own central bank leading to own money). It's a rather cavalier attitude towards the truth, to claim this means they voted to keep the USSR. When independence was made an option only a few months later, it got over 90% of the vote.

    , @Philip Owen
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Brexit supporters didn't understand what they were voting for either.

  32. @Thulean Friend
    Belarus doesn't have any options. The West will never accept a dictatorship into its fold. The only reason why Korea and Taiwan got away with it - for a limited time - was because the USSR was seen a serious ideological rival in the 1960s and 1970s. As soon as the Soviet Union started to falter, tremendous pressure was put on both countries to turn democratic and they did.

    Russia is hardly a serious threat anymore the way the USSR was, so there is more leverage to the ideological wing of the 'blob' to make these demands from the get-go.

    If Lukashenko is deposed and Belarus would seek integration with the West then Russia would almost certainly militarily intervene. It just isn't possible for putlet to stand by and do nothing after all he has said about unification. It would instantly de-legitimise his rule in a way that would be totally unacceptable politically. A non-starter.

    A new dictator arising in Lukashenko's place is unlikely to be strong enough to set his own course the way Lukashenko did in the 1990s, which was aided by a temporarily weak Russia under Yeltsin. That was a one-off.

    Integration is essentially a slam dunk if Russia doesn't fuck everything up. Which is historically a tall ask to make of it.

    Replies: @Simpleguest, @Mitleser

    The West will never accept a dictatorship into its fold.

    They would.
    What they are not going to accept is someone independent-minded/unreliable who tries to play off different sides.

  33. @Anatoly Karlin
    @AltanBakshi

    You're probably right. Lukashenko might try to transform Belarus into some kind of zmagarist-socialist 80s Romania type place, perhaps buffed by Chinese-style cyber panopticon + social credit system. And there is, perhaps surprisingly, a lot of synergy between Lukashenkoism and the MAGA + Based Poland/Ukraine crowd; even if EU is hostile, there might be a positive relation with Polish Intermarium projects. But yes, overall, it's hard to see influential Western factions going out to bat for a Belarusian dictatorship, even a zmagarist one.

    Optimal strategy IMO is to push against Lukashenko to the maximal extent possible, but stopping short of toppling him. But if we miscalculate and he does fall, it likely won't be catastrophic as in the Ukraine for aforementioned reasons.

    Replies: @Ludwig, @AltanBakshi

    From the various noises coming from the US and via its East European vassals, the Empire has thrown their weight against Lukashenko and “for the people”. The US it appears is calculating that it can gain popularity with the Belarusian populace by this measure and an eventual popular leader. It’s not a bad bet.

    This presents Russia with two problems. One with Belarus and one domestically.

    Re Belarus: Lukashenko is an odious figure who has not done much for Russia except for one thing: he has not gone too far against Russia. He has played a clever game essentially trying to blackmail the Kremlin by saying “Support me or I’ll sell out to the US”. In the absence of a truly popular leader who will ally with the Kremlin – and Lukashenko has made sure that none appeared, it appears that the Kremlin has had little choice but to grin and bear it. But at the expense of alienating many Belorussians sick of Lukashenko.

    So the trick for the Kremlin is to show support for the Belorussian people while at the same time toeing the line with Lukashenko – so he doesn’t make more deals with the West – but who many Belorussians detest.

    The other problem is domestic: support from the Kremlin for Lukashenko may disgust many Russians who see that their fraternal peoples being beaten up by Lukashenko’s forces and cause/add to discontent against the Kremlin. Again, these Russians may see the US acting in a more principled way supporting the people (though of course the US is thoroughly calculating).

    The Kremlin is in a bit of a zugzwang, and has to pick its way carefully. It would no doubt prefer a scenario where a popular pro-Russian leader who will accelerate the Union State came to the fore but this seems unlikely.

  34. @Philip Owen
    @Maïkl Makfaïl

    Depending on how you count it, UK-US trade is between a quarter and a half of EU trade. Most prospects for expansion involve the destruction of UK farming.

    Replies: @Maïkl Makfaïl

    Yes you are right, sorry i confused the US with the rest of the world , in other worlds non-EU countries. But still, according to the data i have , in 2016, 57 % of British exports were oriented towards non-EU countries in the world, which clearly means that the EU was not the main partner of GB. And the US are the top clients of British exports, they represent 19% of British exports while Germany is the distant second with only 9% . In fact even if you ad up Germany , France and italy, their combined weight in british exports is inferior to the share of the US.

    So Brexit was indeed commercialy well-founded.

    • Replies: @utu
    @Maïkl Makfaïl

    2019

    UK with EU: 43% exports and 49% imports
    UK with US: 20% exports and 13% imports

    , @LondonBob
    @Maïkl Makfaïl

    Brexit was really about immigration. Those politicians like Al 'Boris' Johnson or Michael Gove only supported Brexit as they thought it would lose and they could increase their chances of being elected leader. It was a grassroots event opposed by the establishment.

    , @Philip Owen
    @Maïkl Makfaïl

    Splitting the EU is nonsensical in trade terms unless you also split the US into states. There is more regulatory discretion between US states than between EU countries. Comparing the US with Germany is for fanatical Europhobes like Redwood trying to deny reality.

  35. What Should Russia Do in Belarus?

    Rename the place, in English. “White Russia” is what all her neighbors call her. We should do the same. “Ruthenia” also works.

    As with “Beijing”, nobody in the US can pronounce “Belarus” correctly, and it’s probably the same elsewhere in the Anglosphere

  36. @Maïkl Makfaïl
    @Philip Owen

    Yes you are right, sorry i confused the US with the rest of the world , in other worlds non-EU countries. But still, according to the data i have , in 2016, 57 % of British exports were oriented towards non-EU countries in the world, which clearly means that the EU was not the main partner of GB. And the US are the top clients of British exports, they represent 19% of British exports while Germany is the distant second with only 9% . In fact even if you ad up Germany , France and italy, their combined weight in british exports is inferior to the share of the US.

    So Brexit was indeed commercialy well-founded.

    Replies: @utu, @LondonBob, @Philip Owen

    2019

    UK with EU: 43% exports and 49% imports
    UK with US: 20% exports and 13% imports

  37. @Anatoly Karlin
    @Philip Owen

    That vote was predicated on the false understanding that a new Union treaty would replace the current one. The people were misled.


    That helps explain the incongruous result of the December 1991 referendum in Ukraine, which is usually cited as conclusive evidence of a popular nationalist revolution. In this instance, 90 percent of the turnout voted for “independence” even though nine months before, in the March referendum, 70 percent of Ukrainians (and 80 percent in a supplementary ballot) had voted for the Union. Ukraine, along with Russia, Belarus, and Western Kazakhstan, were the Slavic core of the Soviet Union. And when Yeltsin, Kravchuk, and, following their lead, the leader of tiny Belarus abolished it a few days later, they used the December referendum as justification.
    In Ukraine, there was already “considerable confusion” over the words “sovereignty” and “independence,” which were being used almost interchangeably and manipulated by the former Communist elite, turned nationalist and headed by Kravchuk.41 Protesting Kravchuk’s use of the referendum vote, Gorbachev could tell him “with some justice,” as an American scholar notes, that other republics had declared independence without it meaning an “obligatory exit from the Union.”
    (A decade later, 60 percent of Ukrainians favored some kind of union with Russia and only 46.5 percent said they would have voted for a referendum on independence.)
     
    From Stephen Cohen's Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives.

    Replies: @AP, @Philip Owen

    That helps explain the incongruous result of the December 1991 referendum in Ukraine, which is usually cited as conclusive evidence of a popular nationalist revolution. In this instance, 90 percent of the turnout voted for “independence” even though nine months before, in the March referendum, 70 percent of Ukrainians (and 80 percent in a supplementary ballot) had voted for the Union.

    Stephen Cohen offers a very tendentious interpretation of Ukraine’s referendums and reveals himself to be either mistaken about a very fundamental thing (doubtful) or dishonest (more likely).

    There was nothing “incongruous” about the two referenda. The first one in March represented a huge break from the USSR by asking if people wanted Ukraine to be sovereign. The questions were:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Ukrainian_sovereignty_referendum

    ” Do you consider necessary the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics in which the rights and freedom of an individual of any nationality will be fully guaranteed? ” 71% voted Yes.

    The second question was “Do you agree that Ukraine should be part of a Union of Soviet Sovereign States on the basis on the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine?” 82% voted Yes.

    Declaration of State Sovereignty was de facto independence:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_State_Sovereignty_of_Ukraine

    “The document decreed that Ukrainian SSR laws took precedence over the laws of the USSR, and declared that the Ukrainian SSR would maintain its own army and its own national bank with the power to introduce its own currency.[2] The declaration also proclaimed that the republic has intent to become in a future “a permanently neutral state that does not participate in military blocs,”

    So 82% of Ukrainians voted to have a state whose laws were supreme on Ukrainian territory, that had its own currency, and its own army that would not be in an alliance with the army of Russia. The USSR would be transformed into something like the EU, but with no NATO, and with no Euro.

    Cohen twists this around to mean they simply voted to keep the USSR and then claims that somehow this doesn’t match the result of the independence referendum a few months later.

    Formal independence itself wasn’t an option on that March referendum. Nationalists were ecstatic that 82% of Ukrainians voted for sovereignty (own laws, own army, own central bank leading to own money). It’s a rather cavalier attitude towards the truth, to claim this means they voted to keep the USSR. When independence was made an option only a few months later, it got over 90% of the vote.

  38. @AnonFromTN
    @AltanBakshi


    It would be a complete propaganda disaster for the Western countries if they would try to support a dictator in the heart of the Europe after that dictator has bloodily repressed democratic protests against his rule.
     
    You wrongly assume that European politicians are fastidious. They are not. The main strength of Europe is hypocrisy. It’s the mainstay of its policies. It includes doublethink. Europe (in its role of an obsequious imperial vassal) is supporting at least two states run by mafia bosses guilty of murder: Kosovo and Montenegro. Compared to that an ordinary dictator is almost a benevolent figure. Both these statelets are geographically closer to the Old Europe than Belarus. Also, Europe (in the same imperial vassal role) supports jihadists in Syria who committed and keep committing many heinous crimes.

    I would not put any additional disgusting deeds past European politicians.

    Replies: @AltanBakshi

    I would not put any additional disgusting deeds past European politicians.

    Yes, yes, but they also must think of the public perception.

  39. @Anatoly Karlin
    @AltanBakshi

    You're probably right. Lukashenko might try to transform Belarus into some kind of zmagarist-socialist 80s Romania type place, perhaps buffed by Chinese-style cyber panopticon + social credit system. And there is, perhaps surprisingly, a lot of synergy between Lukashenkoism and the MAGA + Based Poland/Ukraine crowd; even if EU is hostile, there might be a positive relation with Polish Intermarium projects. But yes, overall, it's hard to see influential Western factions going out to bat for a Belarusian dictatorship, even a zmagarist one.

    Optimal strategy IMO is to push against Lukashenko to the maximal extent possible, but stopping short of toppling him. But if we miscalculate and he does fall, it likely won't be catastrophic as in the Ukraine for aforementioned reasons.

    Replies: @Ludwig, @AltanBakshi

    Do you really believe that Polish Intermarium project is viable and workable? Beyond small and marginal military cooperation between Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, there isnt anything tangible. Poland and its neighbours would need a capability for an independent foreign policy to make somekind of confederation possible. And even if they could, where is the funding? All those Baltic statelets and the rest are dependent on EU money. It would be a truly mad time when Germany and France would finance Polish superpower ambitions, so that Poland could create a counterpole or counter axis in Europe that had different values and aims than EU. Collapse of the Eu would be a more realistic scenario than USA, Germany and France allowing illiberal and “based”, right wing Polish led Eastern European alliance. Karlin its time for the reality check for this case would be against the core interests of the western establishment. But many Ruthenian commentators from USA on this site have lost their touch on reality(at least on East Europe) and celebrate fantasies of resurgent PLC.

    • Agree: Aedib
    • Replies: @AP
    @AltanBakshi


    Beyond small and marginal military cooperation between Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, there isnt anything tangible.
     
    Basically open borders. So many Ukrainians have been in Poland at this point that the country is hardly “foreign” to them anymore. Polls in Ukraine place Poland as one of Ukrainians’ favorite countries (along with Belarus). Poles are less happy about Ukrainians but attitudes have shown considerable improvement (they have gone from negative to positive).

    You other points are good ones, the process would not be easy. But note that Poland has taken a lot of EU money while openly flouting EU “values.” So there is much room for deepening ties with the brothers to the East. Poland’s political elite across parties are fans of Pilsudski.
    , @Aedib
    @AltanBakshi

    Such a geopolitical Frankenstein would be intrinsically fragile. Too much different cultures put together mixed with ancient offenses and heterogeneous populations and religions. It would be easy for Russia to destabilize it by using the same tricks Poles are using now in the Russian western perimeter. It didn’t work 400 year ago. It will not work again.

  40. @Maïkl Makfaïl
    @Philip Owen

    Yes you are right, sorry i confused the US with the rest of the world , in other worlds non-EU countries. But still, according to the data i have , in 2016, 57 % of British exports were oriented towards non-EU countries in the world, which clearly means that the EU was not the main partner of GB. And the US are the top clients of British exports, they represent 19% of British exports while Germany is the distant second with only 9% . In fact even if you ad up Germany , France and italy, their combined weight in british exports is inferior to the share of the US.

    So Brexit was indeed commercialy well-founded.

    Replies: @utu, @LondonBob, @Philip Owen

    Brexit was really about immigration. Those politicians like Al ‘Boris’ Johnson or Michael Gove only supported Brexit as they thought it would lose and they could increase their chances of being elected leader. It was a grassroots event opposed by the establishment.

    • Agree: Philip Owen
  41. @Anatoly Karlin
    @Philip Owen

    That vote was predicated on the false understanding that a new Union treaty would replace the current one. The people were misled.


    That helps explain the incongruous result of the December 1991 referendum in Ukraine, which is usually cited as conclusive evidence of a popular nationalist revolution. In this instance, 90 percent of the turnout voted for “independence” even though nine months before, in the March referendum, 70 percent of Ukrainians (and 80 percent in a supplementary ballot) had voted for the Union. Ukraine, along with Russia, Belarus, and Western Kazakhstan, were the Slavic core of the Soviet Union. And when Yeltsin, Kravchuk, and, following their lead, the leader of tiny Belarus abolished it a few days later, they used the December referendum as justification.
    In Ukraine, there was already “considerable confusion” over the words “sovereignty” and “independence,” which were being used almost interchangeably and manipulated by the former Communist elite, turned nationalist and headed by Kravchuk.41 Protesting Kravchuk’s use of the referendum vote, Gorbachev could tell him “with some justice,” as an American scholar notes, that other republics had declared independence without it meaning an “obligatory exit from the Union.”
    (A decade later, 60 percent of Ukrainians favored some kind of union with Russia and only 46.5 percent said they would have voted for a referendum on independence.)
     
    From Stephen Cohen's Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives.

    Replies: @AP, @Philip Owen

    Brexit supporters didn’t understand what they were voting for either.

  42. @Maïkl Makfaïl
    @Philip Owen

    Yes you are right, sorry i confused the US with the rest of the world , in other worlds non-EU countries. But still, according to the data i have , in 2016, 57 % of British exports were oriented towards non-EU countries in the world, which clearly means that the EU was not the main partner of GB. And the US are the top clients of British exports, they represent 19% of British exports while Germany is the distant second with only 9% . In fact even if you ad up Germany , France and italy, their combined weight in british exports is inferior to the share of the US.

    So Brexit was indeed commercialy well-founded.

    Replies: @utu, @LondonBob, @Philip Owen

    Splitting the EU is nonsensical in trade terms unless you also split the US into states. There is more regulatory discretion between US states than between EU countries. Comparing the US with Germany is for fanatical Europhobes like Redwood trying to deny reality.

  43. @Europe Europa
    Shouldn't Belarusians be left to choose their own destiny? The general consensus seems to be that the Scots should be allowed to become independent of the UK if and when they choose, and most of the world would take a very dim view of London attempting to stop that, which is why Westminster allowed a referendum and honoured the result (which was remain part of the UK), and will inevitably have to allow another post-Brexit which the result could easily be independence and Scotland joining the EU as an independent country.

    Replies: @Matra, @Svevlad, @Hyperborean, @gT

    In practical realpolitik “if you do not control something, this ‘something’ will be controlled by somebody else”. So Russia in incorrect in playing the waiting game in Belarus, only Russia is not playing the waiting game.

    Russia is playing the frustrating the opposition game . While Stalin would simply have taken over Belarus, Russia’s game is more geared towards frustrating and stalemating other countries in a place like Belarus.

    But this ‘pissing off the opposition’ in a region kind of krieg because you know the opposition doesn’t want to come to blows because the opposition is casualty adverse is not elegant, the Stalin strategy of just sending in the tanks and waiting until the dust clears is so much more respectable.

  44. @AltanBakshi
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Do you really believe that Polish Intermarium project is viable and workable? Beyond small and marginal military cooperation between Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, there isnt anything tangible. Poland and its neighbours would need a capability for an independent foreign policy to make somekind of confederation possible. And even if they could, where is the funding? All those Baltic statelets and the rest are dependent on EU money. It would be a truly mad time when Germany and France would finance Polish superpower ambitions, so that Poland could create a counterpole or counter axis in Europe that had different values and aims than EU. Collapse of the Eu would be a more realistic scenario than USA, Germany and France allowing illiberal and "based", right wing Polish led Eastern European alliance. Karlin its time for the reality check for this case would be against the core interests of the western establishment. But many Ruthenian commentators from USA on this site have lost their touch on reality(at least on East Europe) and celebrate fantasies of resurgent PLC.

    Replies: @AP, @Aedib

    Beyond small and marginal military cooperation between Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, there isnt anything tangible.

    Basically open borders. So many Ukrainians have been in Poland at this point that the country is hardly “foreign” to them anymore. Polls in Ukraine place Poland as one of Ukrainians’ favorite countries (along with Belarus). Poles are less happy about Ukrainians but attitudes have shown considerable improvement (they have gone from negative to positive).

    You other points are good ones, the process would not be easy. But note that Poland has taken a lot of EU money while openly flouting EU “values.” So there is much room for deepening ties with the brothers to the East. Poland’s political elite across parties are fans of Pilsudski.

  45. @AltanBakshi
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Do you really believe that Polish Intermarium project is viable and workable? Beyond small and marginal military cooperation between Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, there isnt anything tangible. Poland and its neighbours would need a capability for an independent foreign policy to make somekind of confederation possible. And even if they could, where is the funding? All those Baltic statelets and the rest are dependent on EU money. It would be a truly mad time when Germany and France would finance Polish superpower ambitions, so that Poland could create a counterpole or counter axis in Europe that had different values and aims than EU. Collapse of the Eu would be a more realistic scenario than USA, Germany and France allowing illiberal and "based", right wing Polish led Eastern European alliance. Karlin its time for the reality check for this case would be against the core interests of the western establishment. But many Ruthenian commentators from USA on this site have lost their touch on reality(at least on East Europe) and celebrate fantasies of resurgent PLC.

    Replies: @AP, @Aedib

    Such a geopolitical Frankenstein would be intrinsically fragile. Too much different cultures put together mixed with ancient offenses and heterogeneous populations and religions. It would be easy for Russia to destabilize it by using the same tricks Poles are using now in the Russian western perimeter. It didn’t work 400 year ago. It will not work again.

  46. Russia needs to take control of “political transition” in Belarus. Send in the green men. Make Luka have a sudden heart attack. Then appoint his successor, who will send “integration” into overdrive.

    Sitting on hands and waiting for good things to happen ensures Western victory.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
    @Felix Keverich


    Sitting on hands and waiting for good things to happen ensures Western victory.
     
    Not necessarily. When you see your enemy committing suicide, do not interfere.

    Replies: @Felix Keverich

  47. @Felix Keverich
    Russia needs to take control of "political transition" in Belarus. Send in the green men. Make Luka have a sudden heart attack. Then appoint his successor, who will send "integration" into overdrive.

    Sitting on hands and waiting for good things to happen ensures Western victory.

    Replies: @AnonFromTN

    Sitting on hands and waiting for good things to happen ensures Western victory.

    Not necessarily. When you see your enemy committing suicide, do not interfere.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    @AnonFromTN

    Might as well disband the Foreign ministry, while we're at it. Who needs the foreign policy, when the enemy is "committing suicide"?

  48. @AnonFromTN
    @Felix Keverich


    Sitting on hands and waiting for good things to happen ensures Western victory.
     
    Not necessarily. When you see your enemy committing suicide, do not interfere.

    Replies: @Felix Keverich

    Might as well disband the Foreign ministry, while we’re at it. Who needs the foreign policy, when the enemy is “committing suicide”?

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