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Even the neighbor, but not his brother, as well. A new stage in relations between Moscow and Minsk

Radio Liberty 26.12.2018 at 19:15

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a private, non-profit information service funded by the U.S. Congress, broadcasting to the countries of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Middle East and Russia.

On 25 December in Moscow was held the meeting of presidents of Russia and Belarus Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko. However, instead of the expected agreement on contentious issues, the two leaders said that they will meet again before the New year. In Minsk I suspect that Russia is seriously trying to change the model of relations that existed between Russia and Belarus over the last 25 years, and Alexander Lukashenko actually left the trumps to stop the process. Minsk and Moscow will establish a working group to prepare proposals for integration and resolution of the issues. This was announced to journalists in Moscow immediately after the meeting of Lukashenka and Putin, first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Russia Anton Siluanov. "With the issue of gas pricing we should be determined and, starting in 2020, to develop proposals on formation of the prices for this kind of energy," – said Siluanov. In fact, it is the only announced result of the four-hour talks between Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow. On the eve of visit to Moscow President Alexander Lukashenko appealed to its traditional political tactics, which has worked before to raise the stakes, increase the tension, to conduct a psychological attack. The Belarusian President said that Russia is the key external partner, but it is not the fraternal state "I'm not talking the brotherly government, because, as I was informed, in Russia it is not accepted. Allegedly new people have come that this concept is unacceptable. Well, let's be partners...We have always stressed the importance of this interaction. The comprehensive nature of our relations is of great importance not only for Belarus but also for Russia. They are built on the system and, most importantly, a planned basis," – said Lukashenko. On Monday evening, before the arrival of Lukashenko, in the basis of the planned Russian-Belarusian relations has been a serious rift in a press-service of the government of Russia stated that "any agreement to pay compensation to Belarus in connection with the tax maneuver has never been." They say, we only promised to discuss this question here and discuss. At the same time the first Vice-Premier, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on the periodic violation of the customs regime of Belarus and Russia, in particular, on the sanctions and import of excisable goods into the territory of Russia. "We say that you are our neighbor, our ally, but lately, trust is lost. All of these solvents, "sanctionsa" comes to us, excise goods - cigarettes, our markets fill", - he said. The main economic argument for today is the demand of Minsk to compensate for losses from so-called "tax maneuver," causing the revenue from the sale of petroleum products does not go to the Belarusian budget. "As for oil prices, the situation changed three years ago. During these three years due to the tax maneuver, we lost almost $4.5 billion. We understand that in the coming years to about 2024, will incur losses by $10.5 billion," - said on Monday Lukashenko. "And me personally, and the government is not denied, it was firmly promised: "We will never go to the deterioration of the economic situation in Belarus, and we will compensate the losses from the tax maneuver". But Moscow demands Minsk obviously perceives as overvalued. About it quite clearly said in his recent interviews the new Ambassador of Russia to Belarus Mikhail Babich. According to Babic, at the moment the total Russia's support to Belarus is approximately 4.5 billion per year. And the implementation of the new requirements of Minsk about reducing gas prices, payment of the "tax maneuver" will be another 3 to 4 billion a year. In a situation when the motto of the Russian policy becomes the words of Prime Minister Medvedev, "there is no money, but you hold to" give the money "for some unknown reason" Moscow is not going. Official footage of the meeting of the Russian and Belarusian delegations in a wide format fixed pretty tense and wary faces of the negotiators and Vladimir Putin, who during his short introductory words nervously twitching leg, which experts say in sign language, means impatience and the desire to leave as soon as possible. And immediately after his meeting with Lukashenko, not making any statements to the press, Putin went to meet with the leadership of the Federation Council and the state Duma. "The disagreement is deep enough, the differences between the parties are large," – says the Director of a research program on the Eastern Neighborhood of the EU and Russia, the Finnish Institute of international Affairs analyst Arkady Moshes: I think that Russia is seriously trying to change the model of relations, primarily in the economic sphere, which existed between Russia and Belarus over the past 25 years. Russia today is really less money, Russia hard enough increases the fiscal burden on their own population. And Moscow makes it clear to Minsk that period when subsidies have been more or less unlimited, and this period has passed. For Belarusian authorities, it is probably to some extent a shock. This is a very serious change of circumstances, so just to accept this change in the model of Minsk can not. But Moscow gives Minsk to understand that cheap and endless money and financial effects will be no more. – Why did Moscow years was forced to take Belarusian rhetoric about the importance of only ally, about the "together rot in the trenches" and so on? The key reason is that, according to the Kremlin, the subsidies must stop – Moscow today is more it is less afraid to go to scandal, hard collision, she largely succeeds in Minsk solidarity with their foreign policy positions, it does not Harbor any more illusions about the depth of military-political allied relations with Minsk. But it seems to me, anyway, the key reason is that, according to the Kremlin, the subsidies need to stop, the extent to which it was. Because money has become fundamentally less. – Whether Minsk has some trumps? Return whether Lukashenko once again to the "diplomatic scandal" and whether it will be successful? – I think that the special trumps Minsk left. In my opinion, Lukashenko has made quite a big mistake trying the last 2-3 years playing under the old model, trying to replicate the game here, which he led in the 2008-10 years, demonstrating the prospect of rapprochement with the West, to eventually return back to Russia, bargained serious concessions. 10 years ago it was possible, now impossible, because the West is very different. The West today is not the policy of expanding its influence in the former Soviet Union. To open a new front in the geopolitical confrontation with Russia – this time, in Belarus – the West is clearly not ready. Calculation of Minsk there was an incorrect – says Arkady Moshes.