Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent much of his two decades in power attempting to restore Moscow’s rule over former republics of the USSR. Belarus is his next “victim”. Such an opinion was expressed by the editorial board of the Washington Post.
The authors of the article titled “Putin has set his eyes on Belarus. The West can help it resist.” believe that the Russian leader’s aim now is to merge the two countries, essentially turning Belarus into a province. How is he going to do that?
According to the editors, Minsk and Moscow being unable to agree on Russian oil supplies terms for 2020 is a politically charged dispute. Belarus’ economy heavily depends on Russia’s energy and the Russian leader knows that. Thus, forcing the Belarusian president to implement a 20-year-old union state treaty is the only way to get what he wants.
Though he is anything but an attractive partner for the West, his attempt to save his country deserves support,” the Washington Post stresses.
Aleksander Lukashenko, on the other hand, is resisting, claiming he does not want to be “the last president of Belarus”, the authors note. They also recall that a similar situation happened before when he maneuvered between Russia’s encroachments on sovereignty and Western pressure for the liberalization.
The editorial board couldn’t help but notice the latest changes happening: buying a tanker load of oil from Norway, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Minsk and promise to bring back the ambassadors and “deliver 100 percent of the oil you need at competitive prices.”
And still, the Washington Post’s prognosis is far from encouraging, they believe American petroleum would not rescue Belarus’s refineries.
“Mr. Lukashenko might have to choose between knuckling under to Mr. Putin — or at least taking steps in that direction — and subjecting his economy to the shock therapy that would be necessary to free it from Russia. If he chooses the latter course, the United States and the E.U. should do what they can to ease the pain, while continuing to press for improvements in human rights,” the American media source concludes.
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