Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) is shaking hands with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi on February 22, 2021.
ALEXEI DRUZHININ | AFP | Getty Images
As world leaders expressed anger at Belarusian “hijacking” Ryanair With an airplane Detention of opposition activistsRussia was notable for its loud defense of the country. Analysts now say Moscow is in a position to benefit from further alienation from the western part of Belarus.
Belarus ordered the flight of Ryanair carrying prominent Belarusian opposition activist Rome Protasevic to be diverted to the capital Minsk on Sunday, and activists were detained... Russia described the turmoil in the United States and Europe as “shocking” and accused the West of having a double standard.
“It’s shocking that the West calls the incident in Belarus airspace” shocking, “” Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook Monday.
Russia has steadily increased its power and influence over its neighbor Belarus, but its leaders, President Vladimirputin and President Alexander Lukashenko, are somewhat unpleasant allies.
For Belarus, Russia is a strong economic and political partner, a source of support and supporting Lukashenko’s leadership, now in its 27th year.
For Russia, Belarus provides the region with the opportunity to exert economic and political influence and is a convenient breakwater against what is considered a European invasion of former territories such as Ukraine. Putin is known to support stability and predictability, which is why long-time leaders such as Lukashenko in power are favored over the change of power.
Experts chasing Russia closely state that they would have known the “hijacking” case if Putin had not been authorized. Timothy Ash, Senior Emerging Markets Strategist at Blue Bay Asset Management, said on Monday: First Putin gave a green light. “
“If anyone has doubts about whether Lukashenko is’all-in’with Putin, his vertical / sovereign democratic model of power, and in fact the deeper integration of Belarus into Russia, this is certain. I think I’ll send you the answer … No bridge left Going back west, he is ready to relinquish Belarus’ sovereignty to save his skin. “
Putin’s leverage on Lukashenko was recently strengthened when Putin agreed to lend $ 1.5 billion to Belarus to promote trade last September. The move was widely seen as a gesture in favor of Lukashenko after weeks of massive protests demanding his resignation after winning an election that the opposition said was fraudulent. Lukashenko denied this claim.
Like Russia, Belarus is subject to international sanctions. Intimidation and oppression of protesters, opposition members and journalists..
EU leaders on Monday Agreed to impose more sanctions In Belarus, analysts believe that the new restrictions on Lukashenko, or other individuals or groups involved in the case, are likely to be ineffective.
In fact, Emrepeker, European director of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said Monday that the “hijacking” of Ryanair’s planes is likely to benefit Russia by bringing Belarus closer to Russia.
“President Vladimir Putin is likely to welcome the case as a further issue promoting the wedge between Belarus and the West,” Pekel said in a memo.
“On the other hand, Russia’s allegations of involvement will further complicate the EU’s ability to respond effectively to Belarus. Moscow denounces the EU and its members on a double standard and defends the handling of the Minsk case. Similarly, new EU sanctions will lead to Russia’s criticism. As Western interference … If Protasevic is not released, Belarus will push for a strong EU reaction, but Germany will be associated with the Ryan Air case. Is unlikely to target node stream 2. “
Matthew Sherwood, senior European analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said Monday that the entire episode sheds light on “how little sanctions are imposed on Belarus’ domestic politics.”
“After being contested in the August 2020 presidential election, the latest sanctions were imposed, leading to months of protests, but with continued political and financial support from Russia, Lucashenka. And its allies were able to crack down. Opposition movements and protests within the country were largely unsuccessful. “
“We do not expect a new wave of western sanctions to have any more real impact on the domestic situation, and they could bring Belarus even closer to Russia.”
Other analysts have pointed out that Lukashenko’s administration is becoming more and more unpredictable, perhaps bold due to its relationship with Russia.
Nigel Gould-Davies is a former British ambassador to Belarus and a senior researcher in Russia and Eurasia at IISS. He told CNBC on Monday that the Ryanair incident showed that “Lukashenko is now an international threat, not just a threat to his own people.”
“Second, if it faces such a problem to risk international anger and accusation by detaining a journalist and violating international rules in this most serious way. It shows how uneasy he is, “he added.
“It shows that he doesn’t really care about threatening the lives of European and American citizens just to get one person who has publicized the oppression of his people.”
Gould Davis, if it is true that Belarusian KGB personnel were on board the plane As Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said he believed so — It showed that the KGB officials were active abroad. It showed “the international side of the threat this administration poses to the surrounding countries,” and said that other countries, especially Russia, are closely watching how the EU reacts.
“We saw a recent example of Russian and Belarusian security services working together, so we need to look at that angle too … the EU, and I too, with the support of the United States, much more powerful. It is imperative to take more in and became a collaborative stand. “
Bluebay Ash asked, “The case presented a large-scale test for the EU and the West. They now understand the threat to Western liberal market democracy.”
“This is not just a defensive action from Lukashenko, but a full-scale frontal attack on the EU. EU planes have moved between the two EU capitals and have been expelled from the air by the dictatorship. Even if this is avoided, the western airlines are safe and are flying across the dictatorship’s nations. The sky and opponents are not safe. “
Russia’s defense against Belarusian “hijacking” shows increasing influence
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