Not with "Batka" alone
Has Putin made it clear to Lukashenko that he no longer intends to give him "advances"?
As the correspondent of The Moscow Post reports, the day before the negotiations between the presidents of Russia and Belarus, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko, ended. They lasted more than six hours, but the leaders of the countries practically did not comment on their results. There were no loud statements made, no exchange of pleasantries. And this can only mean one thing - they did not agree.
Apparently, the conversation was held in raised tones. Insiders believe that Vladimir Putin is extremely dissatisfied with the position and actions of Alexander Lukashenko after the political crisis in Belarus has passed - and not without the help of Russia. Lukashenko allegedly did not lift a finger to fulfill his obligations to Moscow.
It is significant that in addition to Putin, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev spoke with Alexander Lukashenko. However, not in person, but over the phone. Now Medvedev is engaged in security issues, and is taken by many as the second politician in the country after Putin.
The meeting between Medvedev and Lukashenko did not take place, allegedly due to tight schedules. But everyone understands that if they had wanted to meet, they would have met. So there's nothing to talk about personally. Russia is tired of endless bowing and routine phrases, now we need specifics from Lukashenko.
They wanted to organize another "colour revolution" in Belarus - "Belomaidan", using technologies already developed in Ukraine and other countries. Unsanctioned rallies were held across the country, fueled from abroad. Protestants blocked roads and enterprises.
However, the "blitzkrieg", as Alexander Lukashenko himself described it, failed. "Batka" turned out to be much more resolute than the cowardly Yanukovich, the security forces remained loyal to him, and in a difficult moment, Russia provided moral and material support - it was one of the first to recognize him as a legitimate leader, when even some of the closest neighbours in the CIS turned away from Lukashenko.
During the last meeting in Sochi in September 2020 Constitutional reform, the creation of a Government of National Accord and further joint steps for the integration of the two countries were discussed. Many experts believe that Lukashenko himself has long been an obstacle to this integration. In Belarus itself, many people are simply tired of it.
However, Lukashenko, when his heart is relieved, no longer wants to give up personal power, does not want to compromise either inside the state or outside it at the supranational level of the Union State. This topic was also raised at the recent All-Belarusian Meeting held on February 11, 2021 in Minsk.
Then Lukashenko said that the draft of the new Constitution is to be developed this year, and it will be submitted to a referendum only in 2022. This is reported by TASS. Though it is not clear when exactly, at the beginning, or at the end. In general, it looks like another profanation.
However, according to experts, after zigzagging rhetoric of Lukashenko from the Pro-Moscow to openly anti-Russian (taking scandal with Wagner group alone, which ended up as a provocation of post-Maidan Ukrainian government), Moscow is not going to tolerate slow integration. Batka is expected to take decisive action. Instead, he "tricks" Russia again - take at least the same economy.
A few days ago, it was reported that powerful administrative pressure and tax increases on the part of Belarus could lead to the seizure of the Transneft oil product pipeline on the territory of the republic. This is written by Moskovsky Komsomolets.
The interviewee of the publication suggested that Minsk is trying to bankrupt the operator, and then nationalize it. The Belarusian authorities need the pipe to pump oil from Europe to their refineries. Currently, this pipeline supplies Russian diesel fuel to Latvia and Hungary, but due to the increase in taxes, this route is becoming unprofitable.
Since January 2020, the Belarusian authorities have increased the income tax from 18 percent to 50 percent for the environmental tax of 0.35 Belarusian rubles per ton of petroleum products per 100 kilometres. At the same time, the increase in the tax rate applies only to two pipes - the Belarusian OJSC Gomeltransneft Druzhba, which transfers profits to the state budget, and Zapad-Transnefteprodukt.
A few months ago, Alexander Lukashenko, at a meeting with the workers of Gomselmash, said that he would never sell the company, even to representatives of Russia. And this is just a short list of not the most friendly and complementary actions of Lukashenko after that September meeting with Vladimir Putin.
Who's going where
The main mistake of Lukashenko is that he believes that Putin allegedly "has nowhere to go", because Russia, like Belarus, were under the pressure of Western sanctions and openly unfriendly policies. In the case of Belarus, a major hub was located in Poland. It was there, as well as in the Baltic States, that the main forces and media resources that coordinated the riots were concentrated.
However, now the tension between the European Union and Belarus has also subsided. Brussels imposed sanctions, as the opposition demanded, but they turned out to be very weak, mainly on the security forces from Lukashenko's inner circle, who thereby became more loyal to the country and their leadership.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who plays the role of the main opposition leader, called them a "mockery". This is reported by TASS. At the same time, Tikhanovskaya admitted that the protest lost the street. Now the EU countries are trying to return to their usual business with Belarus since the colour revolution did not work out.
Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin in Sochi on February 24, 2021
And this gives Lukashenko confidence and some room for maneuver in communicating with Russia, but in Sochi he could have been told that such games and sitting on two chairs at once would no longer take place.
Continuing the topic of the stalling of the agreements reached in Sochi and the next slowdown in integration processes, it is impossible not to recall the November visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Minsk. Before him, the Belarusian capital was visited by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, as well as the Head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin.
According to evil tongues, they failed to reason with Lukashenko. Thus, apparently, in Sochi, he received a suggestion from Putin himself. Whether he will understand it, whether he will use this chance - the relations between the two countries, as well as, possibly, the personal fate of the Belarusian leader, will depend on it.