In recent time, the relationship between Minsk and Moscow can be described as the least warm and most intense in their history. More a sense of dissatisfaction with Putin as his skittish Junior partner, at the same time, Alexander Lukashenko with great caution on the Imperial ambitions of “big brother”.
Assess the current Belarusian-Russian relations Polish Radio asked Alyaksandr Milinkevich, leader of the Belarusian opposition, which in 2006 was a single opposition candidate for the presidency:
This is a very difficult and dangerous relationship. The independence of Belarus is indeed under threat. Even the Belarusian authorities that have so long been closer to Russia, both economically and politically, and also militarily, now understand that such a threat exists.
Russia is trying to stop the development of cooperation between Belarus and the West, which is, primarily, with Poland and through Poland. Russia sees this as a danger. Lukashenka speaks of two vectors of foreign policy, and Moscow feels that Belarus was not so close to her, as if she wanted to.
What should be the policy of Warsaw towards Minsk? Do I need to develop relations with Lukashenka? In the opinion of Milinkevich, there should be a pragmatic approach:
This is a long question. Some say that nemoral to have contacts with the authoritarian man and a country where there is democracy and respect for human rights. On the other hand, there is a question to be or not to be Belarus.
Russia is demonstrating aggression, is pursuing the annexation, and many such examples. You have to be blind to not notice. In Russia, taking top chauvinistic idea and the Imperial idea in its worst incarnation. In such circumstances, there is a fascist society. Therefore, there is no alternative. Despite the fact that Belarus is not a democracy needs to maintain relations and cooperate. And Poland does it. I always proceeded from the position that it is impossible not to talk about human rights in Belarus and that there are no real elections. Simultaneously, the need not to isolate Belarus and to impose economic sanctions, as it means the loss of its independence, which is dangerous also for Poland.
Milinkevich believes that large-scale joint Russian-Belarusian military exercises West-2017, planned for September, represent one of the elements to the absorption of Belarus by Russia:
Perhaps you can talk about the expansion of military influence. Participation in these exercises a huge number of Russian troops is probably only the first part of this scenario. Authorities and civil society need to be vigilant and cautious. Must have the tools to neutralize possible provocations. Russia will be the necessary provocation. For example, a possible attack on Russian troops from the known and unknown radicals, and then the Russians can use it as an excuse for the protection of democracy and the rule of law in Belarus.
At the moment Belarus is economically very dependent on Russia. Is there today the possibility of a rapprochement of Belarus with the EU so that the dependence on Russia was not so huge? Alexander Milinkevich draws attention that the policy of economic sanctions against Minsk inexpedient, and the Belarusian authorities have already carried out some reforms:
The economy cannot be cut any country, especially a country with which there are close economic ties, as it is in the case of Belarus and Russia. Even Ukraine trades with Russia, despite the fact that between these countries there is a war.
If we are talking about the European way of development of Belarus, it does not mean that tomorrow we will be knocking on the door of the EU and to declare that we want to be there. Neither the EU nor we are not ready. This refers to the European standards and the desire for them. This is a change that can be implemented even if there is no democracy, and the current Belarusian government carries out some reforms. This is not political but social, economic and other reforms.
Now we are talking about a possible “round table”, not like in Poland when I installed the new political system. This refers to the need to listen to each other, because if there is an external threat, consolidation is one of the best tools prevent possible aggression and annexation.
Establish whether Belarus “Ukrainian scenario” with the annexation and hybrid conflict? The opinion of Aliaksandr Milinkevich on this subject as follows:
Scripts can be different, although the similarity with Ukraine is present. We must remember Georgia, Crimea, Eastern Ukraine — there are many examples. In Belarus the situation is more complicated, since there is no anti-Russian propaganda, including in the Belarusian media. Since it is about the friendship between the two countries. Although, caution against Russian policy in the Belarusian society is growing. Everyone understands that the Belarusian still in mental and cultural terms, is not Russian. And the fact that today the Belarusians have a deeper national identity, is a fact. Despite the fact that after the collapse of the Soviet Union the biggest denationalisation in Belarus.