Lukashenka and Putin part ways leaving idea of forced integration in air

Belarus and Russia have agreed on the fundamental issues of integration processes within the Union State, while it is planned to solve all the controversial issues and prepare a program of action strategy for integration by December 8, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on July 18 in St. Petersburg, summing up the work of the Forum of regions of Belarus and Russia.

"Today we have a program. This is more or less a strategic document. And today we have a big volume or, to put it in plain language, a heap of current problems. The Group and the governments see these problems. And we have developed a program, which, according to government estimates, has been agreed upon by 80-90%," says Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

What are these contentious issues or "current problems"? In fact, there are quite a few of them. If we talk about the main issues, it is compensation for the Russian tax maneuver, determination of the gas price for Belarus for the next year, payment of long promised Russian loans. All these "controversial issues" from Moscow, from the representatives of the Russian government, were answered by the following: "First, integration, then...".

It seemed that after the talks between the leaders of Belarus and Russia in St. Petersburg, the question of what would come "first" was removed from the agenda, but...

The Forum of Regions ended, and the leaders went home, but "current problems" reminded of themselves.

"Tax maneuver is a sovereign right of Russia, so it's unlikely to be correct to talk about any "compensation" for Minsk, we may talk about possible assistance to Belarus in mitigating the consequences of its introduction," said Deputy Foreign Minister Grigori Karasin to RIA Novosti on July 19.

According to Associate Professor of Political Science at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Kirill Koktysh, such a development of events was to be expected. After all, Russia's goal today is to limit any financial support to Belarus.

"It will be very profitable for Russia today to reduce the amount of money, which it used to give to Belarus, retaining the existing status of relations. The tactics is simple: pay a little less for the existing union. From Moscow, it sounds like: "First integration, then negotiations on gas prices. The same applies to Russian loans or compensation for tax maneuver. Minsk says that this is unacceptable for Belarus. In Moscow, they rub their hands: "Well, then, no loans and compensation, and pay as much for gas as we tell you! If nothing is done, if there are no counter-proposals and initiatives from Minsk, the Russian government will be able to implement this game. After all, when you remain just an object, you do not offer anything, you do not make any moves in response and just say "this can't be right, it's wrong," it won't work, because everyone will play in their favor," explains Kirill Koktysh.

Лукашэнка і Пуцін раз’ехаліся — прымус да інтэграцыі застаўся?
Kirill Koktysh / Raman Pratasevich, Euroradio

Today, Belarus should choose another strategy in negotiations with Russia -- it needs to actively make such proposals to Moscow, which "neither publicly, nor non-publicly will be impossible to reject".

"These may be such proposals as digitization of industry and protectionism for industry. Many enterprises in Russia will be happy if Belarus starts lobbying for industrial policy and the existence of industrial policy. If Belarus follows this path, it will instantly get a large number of allies in Russia. But Minsk needs to decide on this," political scientist Kirill Koktysh offers his options for Belarus.

But it is very difficult to decide on it, as there will be those in Russia and Belarus who will call such initiatives "economic heresy" and "denial of liberalism" and will resist them.

The expert of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Balázs Jarábik, also said on the air of Euroradio that Russia thinks about the reduction of spending on Belarus, rather than about its annexation by deepening integration.

Kirill Koktysh also says that the Kremlin has no plans to annex our country:

"The liberal community in Moscow has talked a lot about it [the Kremlin's plans to annex Belarus - Euroradio]. But this is the first sign that this will never be the mainstream idea. In all the years of Putin's rule it has been like this. It's all a deceptive trail," the political scientist is convinced.

There is no reason not to believe the experts. It is possible that behind all the latest events there is really only the desire of Moscow to spend less on Belarus. But does it remove the question about the threat to the independence of our country?

And at this time in Belarus signatures are being collected to petition for denunciation of the Union State Treaty. The initiator of such a petition was... the House of Representatives MP Hanna Kanapatskaya.