Thursday, October 05, 2006

A mystery, wrapped in a secret, cloaked by an enigma...

That was a very interesting speech given by Lukashenka to the Russian

Winston Churchill quoted it best, "Russia is a mystery, wrapped in a
secret, cloaked by an enigma."

That quote really rings true with this speech. The bottom line is that
Russia/Putin needs Belarus for several reasons, and obviously Belarus
needs the backing of a Putin controlled Russia. Everything else is just
decoration, smoke, and mirrors.

Mike Miller

I agree that Lukashenka was vague about a lot of things. But I think that his remarks about the "gas deal" came from a very serious place. Belarusians absolutely are not as happy with the thought of rejoining Russia as they once were. This is fact and it has a very understandable basis: At the moment there is some money in the economy and before there wasn't. If the idea of making the Union State came about over a decade ago, it came from the fact that Belarus had not the slightest prayer of existence on its own and had no desire to go with Europe. Right now though, all that gas and oil money has propped up Belarus into something that might be approaching a livable place and with all of the corruption which still exists in Russia, Belarusians simply do not want the problems. And then you add in the egregious business dealings of Gazprom.

I think what Lukashenka was trying to do was to make a public statement that sounds like something Belarusians are thinking. But if he was being vague, it is because he does in fact very much want to be a part of Russia again and probably because he wishes to extend his sphere of influence over there as well. I truly believe that Lukashenka believes in the necessity of the existence of a new Soviet Union. This proposed union may not be based upon communism but it will be based on an extremely socialist (i.e., a very high level of state control) ideology and will in principal be against the US and Europe, sort of a second party to keep things on a level keel globally.

There are as many peripheral deals going on as there are stars in the sky, but basically, no matter how hard we like to think the man is we can't forget that Lukashenka is a politician and that he has to be a politician to keep things running and that he is in fact a pretty good one. And like any politician, he has to find the "deal" that allows him to keep his job, which means keeping people with him. Perhaps the west can't see that this is so, but Belarusians can and Lukashenka knows this.

So this is why he got strong with the Russian press over the gas deal. He was saying that Russia and Gasprom need to think for the Union and not just for their own pockets. The west is interested in this deal because it says a lot about what the nature of this new union is going to be; if Belarus capitulates to Russia, this will mean something, if Gasprom allows for a good deal for Belarus, this will also mean something. And of course, if Lukashenka says no to the union over this (don't bet on this road), this will mean something too.

So to me it was all just politics and trying to say what needed to be said. This gazprom issue is in fact really big but it is about a lot more than money in the end. I think Lukashenka simply wanted to remind Russia (publicly) of that.

I think that Putin obviously has to play a dangerous game with Gasprom over the gas prices to Belarus, it is a dangerous and difficult balancing act. But in the end, Putin will not allow for the severe injury of its best ally, Belarus. Both Lukashenka and Putin are of the belief that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. I believe this and therefore I do not think that given the choice of surrendering Belarus to the Americans/Westerners or to allow her to become a part of a modern, non-Soviet controlled Russia, Putin will choose to keep the Eastern Slavic family together.

It is obvious that Lukashenka and Putin operate as one, and that one party doesn't ever surprise the other, but they must for now at least pretend a small charade for the sake of posterity to the Russian voting public, the Belarusian conscience, Gasprom and to the vultures of the west. This dance must continue for the safety of the Russian and the Belarusian people even though it may sometimes seem like the two partners are not in step with one another.


I agree with this Mike. But I think one more part of this is whether or not Gazprom is willing to think this way too. Perhaps this "dance" as you call it is in fact Russia's and Belarus' litmus test as to whether or not there can ever really be a new "Union". At the moment, the argument though seems to be completely and only about power and money. But should ideals, and specifically the sorts of ideals that Belarusians believe should be at the heart of such a new Union come into play (togetherness, looking out for the next guy- you know, commie stuff), Belarus will get the deal they need and Russia will give it to them with pleasure for the sake of the Union. If this is what happens, the west is in trouble. If not, well, lets just say that we are all Euro-trash here within a decade.