Espreso. Global

Lukashenko has two scenarios: bad and even worse

24 May, 2024 Friday

If he sends troops to Ukraine, he will become extremely vulnerable at home, as his influence in the country is weak


The self-proclaimed president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, never misses an opportunity to show himself to be Putin's steadfast partner. He recently demonstrated this by threatening a possible conflict in the so-called Suwalki Corridor, a narrow isthmus that unites the territories of the Baltic states with Poland and separates Russia's Kaliningrad region from Belarus.

At the same time, the Belarusian dictator, constantly maneuvering, managed to avoid the complete annexation of Belarus by Russia. Now we can talk about a kind of intermediate form of annexation - “semi-annexation” - when he no longer controls logistics and airfields in his country, but formally still retains conditional control over state governance bodies, the KGB, police and army. As long as Russia is waging war in Ukraine, Putin is ready to put up with this situation of uncertainty, unless something unexpected happens. After all, he has long planned a place for Belarus in a kind of revived USSR, but without Ukraine's participation, he sees no point in forcing the issue.

The Belarusian dictator himself is afraid to openly join the war in Ukraine for several reasons. Constantly delaying this issue, he still theoretically retains the possibility of retreat - he is waiting to see who will prevail.

And when the situation in Russia begins to change dramatically for the worse, the economy sags, its political elites begin an open struggle among themselves, and the processes of uncontrollability and disintegration begin in Russia, then he will have a certain chance to fight for at least a minimal political indulgence from the West, if the right decisions are made in time.

Lukashenko can claim that despite the Kremlin's pressure and arm-twisting, he managed to avoid direct interference by the Belarusian army in the war throughout. And the fact that Russian troops invaded Ukraine from Belarus on February 24, 2022, was no longer up to him. Because he had nothing to restrain the Russian army, which was already on Belarusian territory. But he can say that later, if he is able to hold out until the end of this war. For now, he is forced to play the pathetic role of Putin's dressed monkey before the international community, trying not to fully comply with all orders from the Kremlin.

In addition, the Belarusian army itself is a danger to the usurper. Unlike the KGB and the police, the military has no special loyalty to him. For this reason, he does not risk mobilization, without which he cannot join the war in Ukraine. And in the event of a critical situation in the country, the military, as an organized and disciplined force, could defeat Lukashenko's security forces and send him to Moscow forever.

At the same time, as a puppet of Moscow, Lukashenko managed to enlist the support of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, which became a significant factor in deterring the Kremlin. By skillfully playing on the differences between Beijing and Moscow, Lukashenko managed to get a geopolitical label for his rule from the People's Republic of China, as they are interested in having their vassal in Europe.

The year 2024 could be a turning point for the Belarusian dictator. He is due to turn 70 years old, and for 30 of those years he has been illegitimately “presiding” in Belarus. It is obvious that the last dictator of Europe is losing his dead grip, his health is undermined by decades of all kinds of excesses, illnesses and excess weight, but he cannot retire from politics. Neither can he pass the country on to his heir, his son Kolenka, or to anyone in his inner circle.

Lukashenko does not want to send Belarusian troops to fight in Ukraine to pursue his own domestic goals, but he is already an accomplice to Putin's crimes. He cannot help but realize this. After all, it was this dictator who allowed Russian soldiers to be brought into his country for training and subsequent invasion of the territory of a neighboring independent state. He did everything to support the Russian genocide in Ukraine.

However, it would be risky to assume that the issue of Belarus' entry into the war was a sole decision of Lukashenko himself. At some point in the Russian-Ukrainian war, Putin may force the Belarusian dictator to join it. It is possible that so far he has refused, citing the small size of his army. Of course, Belarusians cannot launch an offensive against Ukraine from the north to capture parts of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Zhytomyr, and Volyn regions on their own. But when the Kremlin becomes backed in a corner, Putin may come up with the idea of a second front that would disperse and undermine the forces of the Ukrainian army. One way to implement this idea is to create a united Russian-Belarusian army, with the main officer positions handed over to the Russians.

However, in military terms, this would hardly have a serious effect, as such a Russian-Belarusian armed force would still be small and insufficiently combat-ready. And knowing the current state of affairs in the Russian army, it is possible that an uprising, mass escape, or sabotage would have further weakened the morale of such a hybrid army.

Before the full-scale invasion, it seemed that Lukashenko wanted to repeat the 2014 trick: declare his loyalty to Moscow, but at the same time feign neutrality, trying not to burn all bridges to the West. But today, the ties that existed before with the West have been almost destroyed, and the Kremlin is vigilantly watching to ensure that they do not recover.

Lukashenko is completely dependent on Putin. Without him, he would have long since faded into history. The two dictators have become “political Siamese twins.” They treat each other with contempt, but when Putin hallucinated something about people with victorious genes, he meant not only Russians, but also Belarusians.

No matter what the long-illegitimate Belarusian leader says in public, he is no less cautious than the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. He did not join Hitler until it became clear that France was losing. When Ukraine succeeds, Lukashenko will emphasize his actual non-involvement. Although it was he who turned on the green light for Putin's killers on the Ukrainian border.

Lukashenko has two scenarios for the future: a bad one and an even worse one. If he sends troops to Ukraine, he will become extremely vulnerable at home, because his influence in the country is weak. If he doesn't, and Russia loses the war of aggression, he will definitely lose control of Belarus and could be removed from power by force and end up like Mussolini.

At present, Lukashenko is trying to refrain from directly joining the war in Ukraine, keeping the Belarusian people in line by force. After all, every wrong move threatens the collapse of this empire of fear. The dictator is a criminal, but not an idiot. He sees perfectly well that the Russians are stuck in Ukraine. If he allows Belarus to be dragged into the war, he risks losing his army, and then his tyranny will crumble. Russia is preparing for a summer offensive against Ukraine. In this context, it is important what role Putin assigns to Belarus. Does Putin have any leverage over Lukashenko to force him to take an outright suicidal step?

However, Moscow still has one more option: to strike Ukraine with tactical nuclear weapons from Belarus, hoping that the response will come to Belarusian territory. Of course, this is naïve, but Putin is keeping this option in mind, despite the fact that he has repeatedly been warned by the West that the response would be instantaneous. And it could mean not only the end of his rule, but also the disappearance of Russia from the world map.

It looks like Putin and his closest criminal circle are considering several options for involving Belarus in the war, and not just against Ukraine. If Putin and Lukashenko try to block the Suwalki corridor and then invade the Baltic states, that's one thing. But when the threat to do so is a deceptive maneuver to divert attention from a possible Russian offensive from Belarus into Ukraine, it is quite another.

During his 30 years of usurping power, Lukashenko has repeatedly managed to avoid political traps set by the Kremlin. Now he has to pass a difficult test to confirm this skill. On the positive side, the self-proclaimed president is not concerned about the fate of Belarus after his term ends. His family and his life are most important to him. Therefore, he will do anything to save them.

The opportunity to tear Belarus away from Russia will appear only after the latter's defeat. This will most certainly mean its separation from Lukashenko. After all, he stole 30 years of their future from Belarusians. And the self-proclaimed president will definitely have to answer for this, as well as for all the crimes he has committed: the disappearance of his political opponents without a trace, the torture and murder of political prisoners, the robbery of the Belarusian people, the smuggling of oil products, and election fraud, no matter what he does next.


About the author. Viktor Kaspruk, journalist

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.

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