Belarus under Russian pressure

Russia is blatantly furthering its "sovereignisation" of the puppet regimes of Tskhinvali and Sokhumi. It is exerting different sorts of pressure on other states, sometimes threatening them, sometimes bribing them. For instance, it bribed Venezuela and Nicaragua by giving them huge quantities of Russian arms.

With its neighbour Belarus Moscow is taking a different approach, promising big loans. Belarus is also dependent on Russia's gas and oil supply, and now winter is here. So far Minsk has managed to avoid Russia's blandishments and has not even considered recognition of the breakaway territories at a Parliament session. However The Kremlin is still demanding that its neighbour take this step. Therefore Minsk has sent a group of Belarus Parliamentarians to Georgia and the Russian-occupied territories to examine the situation on the ground.

After the invasion of Georgia's territories in 2008 Russia put immense pressure on its CIS allies, but although none of them, apart from Ukraine, supported Georgia they did not support Moscow either and none have recognised the breakaway territories as sovereign states. Now Moscow is concentrating its efforts on Belarus, demanding that it obey the Kremlin's dictate. If Minsk recognises the breakaway Georgian territories it will sell its soul to the devil, as this will distance it from the West forever and make it an obedient satellite of Moscow, following all its demands, something it is very unlikely that any ex-Soviet republic would actually want to become.

The Kremlin, hypocritically as usual, is proclaiming that recognition of the puppet regimes is the sovereign right and decision of Belarus itself, while at the same time officially promising huge loans and threatening to cut off the energy supply. To resolve this situation the Belarus Parliament decided to send 12 MPs to Georgia, 6 to Tbilisi and 3 in both Sokhumi and Tskhinvali. However when doing so Minsk observed and respected Georgia's sovereign rights. Its MPs did not go directly to the breakaway territories but first came to Tbilisi to ask permission.

Some days ago a big and important group of Belarus businessmen attended a business forum here organised by the Chamber of Trade and Commerce of Georgia and the Ministry of Economic Development. Tbilisi is doing its utmost to give the Belarus Parliament that chance to make an objective and fair decision and not support Russia's imperialistic demands. However in theory it need not worry. Belarus Ambassador to Ukraine Valentin Velichko stated on 17 November that every state has its own foreign policy and this is not a matter of bargaining. The issue on recognition is not on the agenda of the Belarus Parliament and no swift decision will be made to please someone else, it will be made by Belarus when it wishes to, for its own reasons, not someone else's.

Here in Tbilisi it is understood that if Belarus Parliamentarians are unbiased they will recognise the Russian aggression and its consequences as what they are. If they do not condemn it directly they will still find some way of not following The Kremlin's diktat. They realise of course in Minsk that recognition of the breakaway territories will also put Belarus' sovereignty in doubt, so let us see how much their own independence means to the members of the Belarus Parliament.


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