President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has addressed Russia with new critical remarks. In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, he warned Russia of 'losing Belarus completely as a result of Moscow's non-friendly policy'.
The Belorussian leader, who actually provoked the latest gas conflict and politicized it, still does not seem to have calmed down, though the gas row is over and all financial are settled. Fortunately, Mr. Lukashenko did not fulfill his threats to cut gas supplies to Europe. If we take into account the upcoming presidential elections in Belarus, we`ll be able to grasp the logic of Mr. Lukashenko. The question is why he has chosen friendly Russia as a major 'external enemy' to unite his people.
Commenting on his foreign policies in the interview, Alexander Lukashenko said that Gazprom's energy policy would harm Russia first of all, and among the most reliable partners for Minsk he mentioned the EU, Iran, Venezuela, China, Israel and US businessmen. However, Mr. Lukashenko did not touch upon his relations with the official Washington as just a few years ago he was banned from entering the territory of the United States.
Alexei Vlasov of the Centre for Post-Soviet Studies told the VOR what could stand behind Mr. Lukashenko`s criticism: "The relations between Russia and Belarus have recently become an issue of active discussion in the international media. Observers have been trying to guess whether this is a new trend of the Belorussian authorities aimed at chilling the relations with Moscow, or a complicated political game led by the Belorussian leader. I do not think either of these guesses is right. Russia and Belarus are brotherhood nations, the closest allies in the post-Soviet territory, sharing common geopolitical interests. If there are any differences, they are more likely to be of tactical nature, but Mr. Lukashenko is often being too impulsive about them".
Among other critical things, Mr. Lukashenko said that after the recent gas row the number of Belorussians approving integration with Russia was decreasing. Strange as it might seem but he added afterwards that the two countries were in the process of 'adapting to each other's policies'. And all his words about Belarus being strong enough to live without Russian investments are nothing more but a gesture of political correctness. The Russian regions have been offering Minsk favorable condition to sell its products and thus maintain stable economic growth. Mr. Lukashenko, however, prefers to turn a blind eye on this.
Inconsistent policies of the Belorussian leader and the latest disputes between Moscow and Minsk have pushed to the background the talks on the Constitution of the Russia-Belarus Union State, single currency and government bodies.
Meanwhile, Russia and Kazakhstan are enthusiastic about another project - a customs union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, though Minsk has not yet decided whether it would benefit from joining this entity.