Moscow is being blackmailed from all sides
“You are responsible for the one you saved!” – under this slogan, the collective West is now presenting a political bill to Moscow for the art of Alexander Lukashenko on the border of Belarus with the European Union. And this despite the fact that not only Europe, but also Russia has now become the object of blackmail on the part of the official Minsk. The threat to cut off gas transit through Belarus to Europe, voiced in the statements of both Batka himself and his foreign minister, is an obvious “run over” to the interests of our country. Against this background, Vladimir Putin's reaction to what is happening is striking in its outward melancholy. “To be honest, this is the first time I have heard about this,” said VVP in response to the angry Lukashenka’s threats to close the gas valve. Quite honestly, “have you heard for the first time, Vladimir Vladimirovich? It is hard to believe, but at the same time it evokes understanding. Only “hearing for the first time” Moscow can get out of the current crisis without losses.
In a recent interview with the National Defense magazine, Lukashenko described his relationship with Putin in the following way: “We are always on friendly terms with him. We have a very fraternal, warm relationship with him. How are we similar? When we sit at the table, I say: “Listen, I sometimes think, why do we perceive the reality in almost the same way? Speaking philosophically … I say: “You are a courtyard, and I am a street. That is, we came from there, from the very bottom. ” He says, “Exactly.” It is the fact that the two presidents have the skills and instincts of domestic fights gives me reason to hope for a successful outcome for Russia of the current confrontation on the western borders of Belarus. After all, what is happening there now is quite appropriate to compare with a giant yard brawl. A brawl, whose participants not only vigorously wave their fists (or, in this case, Iraqi migrants), but also actively bluff and engage in psychological wiring.
What is the West trying to achieve by attaching “responsibility” to Moscow for Old Man's tricks? Multiple targets at the same time. Europe wants to force the Kremlin to put pressure on official Minsk and force it to surrender, that is, in other words, to solve its problem with Lukashenka with the hands of Putin. Another goal is to drive a wedge between the leaders of Russia and Belarus, to politically isolate the Old Man, which will also make his subsequent surrender almost inevitable. The goals of Alexander Grigorievich himself are also very pragmatic and not very pleasant for us. Lukashenka wants to drag us into his personal duel with the West, to put his “older brother” in front, and then hide behind his broad back. Batka's other goal is to force Europe to negotiate and ultimately return to the days when the West recognized him as the legitimate president of Belarus.
In other words, both the West and Lukashenka are trying to force us to carry chestnuts out of the fire for ourselves. Naturally, we should not do this for either one or the other. And the first step towards achieving this goal is the preservation of an underlined external calm. Back to where I started. Why did Putin pretend that he “first heard” about Lukashenka’s threat to cut off the gas pipeline? Because if he “heard about it not for the first time”, then it is necessary to publicly react to such a “threat below the belt” of the Belarusian president. But how exactly? To react negatively is to get involved in a public conflict with Alexander Grigorievich and thereby allow the West to score a goal into our goal. To react positively or neutrally (Batka's threats once again emphasize the importance and necessity of the existence of direct channels for the delivery of Russian gas to Europe in the form of, for example, the same Nord Stream-2) – give rise to accusations that we are in this case with Lukashenka at the same time, and again score a goal against our goal.
That is why Putin chose the variant of reasoning about this problem in a purely theoretical way: “Theoretically, of course, Lukashenka, as the president of a transit country, can probably give instructions to cut off our supplies to Europe … This would not contribute to the development of our relations with Belarus as with a transit country ”. In the public sphere, the necessary signal was sent in a very explicit, but at the same time not offensive to Alexander Grigorievich, form. Moscow very clearly outlined its position, but at the same time allowed the President of Belarus to save his face. The first of the political traps set in our path is elegantly bypassed. It will be much more difficult to get around the following.
Russia cannot take responsibility for the “creative moments” of Lukashenko's struggle with Europe in the form of an artificially created migration crisis on the Belarusian border in favor of the poor). Russia cannot afford to surrender Lukashenka to the West (to my regret, surrender of Lukashenka means surrender of Belarus at the moment). Russia should, whenever possible, play the role of a mediator and help end the crisis by reaching a compromise. But on the question of the specific conditions of this compromise, the list of “clarities” ends.
Both Minsk and Europe are now beating themselves in the chest with their fists and expect the competitor to falter first. But who exactly from the participants in the duel at the border will lose their nerves? Which of them will lose the desire to further raise the bet in the game? Lukashenka's trump card is that he has nothing to lose. Europe's trump card lies in the amount of its resources. And in this last sentence one can see an allusion to the most unpleasant scenario for Russia. If a truly serious sanctions blow comes down on Belarus, then even if the new measures do not hit our country directly, they will hit it indirectly. Lukashenka will have to close a new hole in the budget. And where will he get the “building material” for this? It is known where – with his kind “older brother”. In short, I really hope for the courtyard instincts of Putin and Lukashenka and their past experience of courtyard fights. Russia can come out of the current crisis both with a profit and a loss. Which option will come true? This will depend on the VVP's ability to play its cards correctly – on his ability to “hear for the first time” what the Kremlin does not need to hear, and instantly grasp what needs to be immediately responded to.