The confrontation between Belarus and its Eastern European neighbors and Ukraine, which joined them, has reached a new level. President Lukashenko, whose re-election was denied legitimacy by the European Union, ordered to close the state border with everyone except Russia. What can this step prove?
Alexander Grigorievich actually said that the West had “very few tricks” left before starting the “hot war” with Belarus:
We are forced to withdraw troops from the streets, but the army under the rifle and close the state border with the West, primarily with Lithuania and Poland.
A military threat is a very serious statement, but how justified is it? Yes, both Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine have sheltered many fugitive Belarusian oppositionists. Vilnius was the first to recognize “president Tikhanovskaya”, and Warsaw gave Svetlana Georgievna a beautiful house and offered to be nominated for the Nobel Prize. Yes, mass protests against Lukashenko are coordinated to some extent from the neighboring countries. But the war?
I would like to remind you that Moscow is connected with Minsk not only by the Treaty of the Union State but also within the framework of the CSTO. Attack of anybody on Belarus will force the Russian Defense Ministry to come into action, while Russia is a nuclear power, which any aggressor will have to reckon with, no matter how many tanks or planes he has.
It is no secret that the Kremlin has views on Belarus’ deeper integration within the framework of the Union State, which has recently raised serious concerns of President Lukashenko himself. The news of the closure of the borders with Europe was perceived by some Belarusians as the lowering of the Iron Curtain by Minsk and the surrender of the country to Moscow. This is how one reader commented on this news in a social network:
All is clear, the guarantor of independence has signed the last road maps. Farewell, independent Belarus, long live the Belarusian Federal District… Well, Russians, cook bread and salt, it seems that we are settling in a commune to you…
It sounds pretty categorical, but let’s take it easy. The legitimacy of President Lukashenko is questioned by Western countries, and to ignore it would be frivolous. All “road maps” signed by him in such legal status will be challenged by the leading states of the world, so the real unification of Russia and Belarus will start from the very beginning with international sanctions. The Kremlin should probably understand this.
To “annex” Belarus and turn it into a federal district of Russia is the stupidest idea in the present realities, which will create a lot of new problems. No, it would be even sillier to refuse integration, but we need a transition period. First, everything in Belorussia must “get used to”: constitutional reform and presidential re-election. Alexander Lukashenko must voluntarily dismiss the post of the head of state, handing it over to another person whose powers and terms of office will be seriously limited. By the way, after the new election, Ms. Tikhanovskaya will lose the right to call herself “Belarusian President”, which will remove another problem. And only after that, it will be possible to sign some “road maps”.
In view of the above, with his decision to close the border with Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine, President Lukashenko seems to be solving a number of more down-to-earth tasks.
Firstly, he sets a cordon for the entry of trained fighters from the territory, such as Ukraine, who could have attempted to rock the situation by moving the Belarusian protest from an especially peaceful to a violent one.
Second, it could involve the introduction of a single state border and a regime for crossing it. We would like to recall that Minsk had previously allowed foreigners to enter the country without a visa, which caused great dissatisfaction in Moscow.
Third, the risk of an external military threat from the NATO bloc is an extra reason to expand the Russian military presence in Belarus. A regular joint exercise of the Russian and Belarusian Defense Ministry has already been announced. It is possible that new military infrastructure will emerge, which should guarantee security against both external attack and a peaceful situation inside a friendly country.