In the West President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko is well known as Europe's last dictator. But lately, Lukashenko often expresses his dissatisfaction with the policy of Putin, Joinfo.ua reports.
Forbes notes that the last year, when the economic situation in Russia has deteriorated significantly, Minsk became more amenable to dialogue with the West. The fact that "one of Vladimir Putin's best friends" tends to move away from Russia, demonstrates how seriously the events in Ukraine have affected the relationship between the Customs Union partners.
Belarus remains dependent on Russian partners, especially in terms of energy. Gazprom has already bought the assets of the gas company Beltransgaz, selling energy to the neighbor with good discounts. According to the last agreement, the price reaches 154-155 dollars per thousand cubic meters. It is noteworthy that the bigger the discount is, the easier it is to put pressure on Belarus, Forbes writes.
However, even after the war in Georgia in 2008, Lukashenko began to show independence. It is to be recalled that the head of Belarus promised to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but still he did not. At the same time, the Belarusian leader has begun to be engaged in dialogue with the European partners on the investments in the economy – especially in the energy sector.
Forbes' journalists believe that Lukashenko is concerned about Putin's ambitions and he is forced to move closer to Kyiv.
Belarus refused to send its observers to the Crimea illegal referendum and this country was one of the first countries to recognize the victory of Poroshenko in the presidential election. Lukashenko even gave an interview to Russian opposition TV channels, speaking in favor of unitary status and integrity of Ukraine. Poroshenko, in his turn, has repeatedly visited Minsk. During a recent meeting between two presidents the Belarusian leader promised to provide Petro Poroshenko with "any support" needed "within 24 hours".
Lukashenko is afraid of Putin"s claims and is trying to prevent what is happening now in Ukraine. "Today's behavior by our eastern brother cannot but cause alarm," Lukashenko said after a meeting of the National Security Council this month.
Peace talks in Minsk to resolve the conflict in the Donbas helped Belarus to emphasize its role for Putin and for the West – Lukashenko has had a chance to lead Belarus out of isolation he had led the country in back in 2010.
"Minsk has strongly engaged its Baltic neighbors, all members of NATO, who share, together with Belarus, sizable Russian minorities as well as a palpable concern about Putin"s intentions towards them. In addition to the Baltics, Lukashenko has used the Ukraine crisis to draw closer to neighboring Poland and much of Central Europe, using warming relations with Central Europe as another means to more actively engage the EU," the author adds.
Russia has already expressed its outrage over the policy of Belarus. There are already the first embargo on the goods of Belarusian partners of the Customs Union.
Russian media have already begun anti-Belarus propaganda, the publication writes. Aleksandr Shumsky, a popular analyst wrote in his blog about the belonging of Belarus to Russia and Russia's right to actively oppose the "Westernization" of the neighboring country. And one of the federal channels in Russia told about the coup the Western intelligence agencies were allegedly preparing in Belarus.
According to the newspaper, it has now become clear that "Lukashenko and his inner circle view Belarus's nearly complete dependence upon Russia as no longer desirable in the long term, and for this reason wish to bring Belarus closer to the West and to create greater space between themselves and Moscow." The success of Lukashenko's attempts to get out of isolation depends on how much he is willing to liberalize his country.