The rift between Moscow and Minsk seems to be getting real. Today, Russian state news outlets decried the obvious warming of relations between Belarus and the West. The disagreement seems to be emanating from Russian pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko to integrate more closely with Moscow. Many believe this is an attempt to create a ‘new political entity’ which will allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to stay in office beyond his current term in office, which is constitutionally prohibited. Russia has installed a new ‘tax scheme’ which will siphon off billions from Belarus in the fuel trade with Russia.
Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei on Monday made two pro-Western statements at once – to both Washington and Brussels.First, he said that today “the conditions for revision” are ripe for a decision to reduce the mutual diplomatic presence between Belarus and the United States, and that negotiations on the return of ambassadors to the capitals are already underway.Secondly, Mr. Makei expressed the hope that the European Union “sooner or later” would give up the “remnant of the past” – sanctions against Minsk.Just two hours after that, the Belarusian issue was touched by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who called on Minsk to appreciate Russian assistance.According to the experts interviewed by Kommersant, the Belarusian authorities hope to strengthen their legitimacy in the West and thereby reduce their dependence on Moscow, reported Russian state news outlet Kommersant.
“We are negotiating with our American friends on how we can develop a positive atmosphere in our cooperation, based on the understanding that both countries should be represented at the ambassadorial level, that both countries should have normal political, trade and economic contacts, relations,” – said Makei. He noted the importance of improving relations with Washington and the prospects that will follow.“This is a huge and capacious market for Belarusian products…The situation in the world has changed – it cannot be compared with the situation ten years ago, when the United States imposed sanctions against Belarus and we had to take retaliatory measures.We see: it is time to revise those outdated dogmas that exist today in our relations,” added Kommersant.
“In February of this year, the sanctions will be revised.The European Union will return to the question of the remaining sanctions (against Belarus). We hope that the top will take a rational grain.We hope that sooner or later this relic of the past will be removed and removed from our agenda,” said Makei.
“If the leadership of Russia chooses such a path of movement and the loss of its only ally in the western direction, it is their choice.We cannot make them, ” declared Lukashenko earlier this month.
For Russia’s part, Russian Prime Minister Medvedev today ‘reminded’ Minsk that Belarus should ‘be appreciative’ of Moscow’s financial help.