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War and unexpected castling


How Putin became a “useful idiot” for Lukashenko, and Lukashenko became an accidental darling of the West


Article by NAU head Pavel Latushko for Rzeczpospolita (PL)


The paradoxical nature of the current situation lies in the fact that the Lukashenka regime, totally dependent on the Kremlin, under the conditions of unprecedented sanctions against Russia and at the same time already actually called a co-aggressor in the war against Ukraine — even in this situation, it manages to get out of the water relatively dry.


Sanctions against Russia for the unleashed war against Ukraine are destroying its economy. The pre-default state is already a fixed reality for this country (CCC is Russia's credit rating for today).


In fact, Russia has already declared a technical default (an example is a decree on the possibility of settling debts in Russian rubles with “unfriendly countries”, which is a gross violation of debt obligations). Next comes the inevitable default.


The current situation with sanctions against Russia, on the one hand, casts doubt on the likelihood of its further credit support to Belarus. But on the other hand, in the absence of mirror sanctions against the latter, it creates an offshore zone in Belarus, which enables the Lukashenka regime to be in much more favorable conditions than Russia. And actively earn while Russia is sliding further and further into the abyss.


In fact, Putin's former "useful idiot" Lukashenka is now changing places with him. And while Russia takes on the entire sanctions blow, Belarus only touches on a tangent.


And this is the grossest mistake of Western governments and international sanctions regulators. The non-application of sanctions against the regime in Belarus, identical to those already taken against Russia, creates an extremely favorable situation for Lukashenka.


He still provides Russia with his territory to carry out military operations against Ukraine and thus "pays off" his former debts to the Kremlin. At the same time, while maintaining the ability to stay afloat yourself, earning offshore status.


To put it simply, for completely inexplicable reasons, today it is not even the Kremlin, but the West that is helping Lukashenka to stay in power despite the fact that it considers him a co-aggressor in the war against Ukraine. And thus preserves the Kremlin foothold for the continuation of hostilities. A foothold without which the Russian invasion of Ukraine would have been much more difficult.


Such an inconsistent position of the West towards Lukashenka, in our opinion, can be regarded either as banal myopia or as gross negligence: as in relation to the Ukrainian people, against whom right now there is a cruel war going on (and to a large extent from the territory of Belarus), and the Belarusian people, who have been experiencing mass repressions for a year and a half, unleashed by the same regime that let Russian troops into Belarus.


The West can correct this negligence only by eliminating the huge sanctions hole in the form of the Belarusian offshore. And this must be done immediately.

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