"The Treaty of an Ally State" On Russia's future plans on Belarus

"This may be a good tradition to meet in the advance of a New Year," -  V. V. Putin. "May be," -  O. G. Lukashenko.

These very words were said in Moscow on December 29, on the eve of the New Year on the meeting of two presidents, the main topic of which was a compensation to the Belarusian "partners" (that's Putin's favorite word for the country against which further aggression is scheduled) for Russia's tax maneuver for sale of petroleum products to Belarus. And yet, Belarus received it in the amount of $ 400 million, but under what conditions? Let's dig into it later.

The essence of this maneuver is the abolition of discounts on duty rates on petroleum products export, as a result of which a hole of $ 400 million - $ 2 billion will appears in Belarus's state budget for 2019, it will grow annually. Such enormous amounts were the result of the integration of the Belarusian and Russian economies, but that's not the key point.

The ordinary resident of Ukraine, Lithuania or Poland surely will pay no attention to this news, thinking that "oh, the politicians cannot agree on something once again." But this has a significant meaning, because it is a question of security of the region. 

The point is that the current problems of Minsk due to the tax maneuvers, as well as the previous payments on the loan for the construction of the Belarusian NPP, are only a cover for further steps towards the dismantling of Belarus statehood, which Lukashenko keeps trying to preserve and struggle for which he loses before our eyes. All started from the treaty on creation of an ally state of 1999 between the Russian Federation and Belarus, signed by  Lukashenko, who at that time pursued the goal to realize own ambitions and head at least a small version of the USSR. However, 19 years later, we observe how the results of his ambition leads him to collapse. "Ambition should be made of sterner stuff," - Shakespeare said.

And now, after few months of backroom intrigues and threats, the unchanging leaded, a father of the nation, whose authority in the country was indisputable, has demonstrated fragility and actually agreed to the creation of a "union state," to which he had been opposing so much after the signing the very treaty, fearing the Kremlin ambitions to absorb Belarus. In exchange for a $ 400 million compensation for the tax maneuver, he agreed to further steps on implementation of the agreement, in fact, he gave up the sovereignty of the state, thereby making several awkward jokes and smiles that even much revealed the tension he felt. Worth noting, that with or without the compensation Lukashenko's further perspectives looks rather optimistic. In due course, losses from tax maneuver will only increase, and given the fact that Belarus is expecting a presidential election in the autumn of 2020 (perhaps a year earlier), the Belarusian president have bad prospect, and all this is against the backdrop of falling living standards since the Belarusian economy is integrated into Russian within the framework of the Eurasian Union. 

And if in 00's Mr. Lukashenko succeeded to preserve sovereignty at least partially, skillfully maneuvering on issues of compensation for transition of the Belarusian market to RU Rubl and opening of another emissive center in Minsk, today he would not be able to do the same, at least because Moscow has learned all specific of the game.

And so, what kind of participation awaits the Republic of Belarus in the course of integration into the union state and how does it threats to Ukraine and other neighbors?

After analyzing the provisions of the signed Agreement, we note that it is planned to create a confederative state with a single political, economic, military, customs, currency, legal, humanitarian and cultural space, so as formation of a joint Cabinet of Ministers, parliament, ministries (energy, finance, defense, infrastructure), as well as a single judicial system and the introduction of a single currency. As you can see, the list is exhaustive, and Moscow will put pressure on Minsk to maximize its benefits. Moreover, on December 28, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced the creation of a working group that will implement the provisions of the treaty and will include members of the government of Russia and Belarus. The Integration Commission, as it is called in Moscow, should complete the integration by 2024.

Certainly, the backstage struggle is expected and Lukashenko will once again try to get own benefit from the situation. Would he suceed - well see, but the scenario looks not much promising. Thus, the Foreign Minister of Belarus, Makej, loudly claimed on December 29th that "In the event of a threat, we must give a response to the aggressor." However, will it be possible form Belarus to stop Russia?

Considering military potential of Belarus, the forecasts are quite pessimistic. The country has little chance for a long-lasting opposition, first of all, due to the presenting Russia's military contingent on its territory - the military bases of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Russian Airborne Troops, which were reinforcement by the personnel of the motorized rifle and tank units, that have been left in the country after the Zapad-2017 military exercises - as well as taking into account the fact that the majority of the officers of the Armed Forces of Belarus, the KGB and the units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs studied in Russia and have frank pro-Russian views. 

At a closed meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus in early December - which was certainly attended by representatives of military departments - when Lukashenko set the condition "to defend independence at all costs," the issue of a possible military confrontation was also discussed. Having assessed all their capabilities, the fact of the presence of Russian troops both inside the country and at the frontiers, as well as the frank pro-Russian views of the majority of the personnel of the Armed Forces, the bent was made on a peaceful settlement of the situation. Therefore, in the last week of 2018, the attentive columnist of Ukraine could notice something a sort of veiled bidding over the surrender of Belarus sovereignty. In any case, it does not outline good prospects for Belarusian statehood, and therefore, even after a gentle integration, the dismantling of the state of Belarus will be followed by such. The one who choosing between disgrace and war will choose disgrace, will ultimately face both disgrace and war.

It is difficult to predict the possible course of events in the event of Lukashenko's resistance, since sharp integration - unlike gradual , soft and veiled annexation - will affect Russia rather negativelly in the long run and ultimately undermine relations with the West, where NATO at the same time strengthens its capabilities in Poland, Romania and other countries. Therefore, the rate is still being made on a peaceful basis, but for Ukraine, it have no positive tones.

Russia's absorption of Belarus has many dangers for Ukraine. There is no need to talk about an additional thousand kilometers of border with the aggressor. Belarussian  beachhead actually opens for Russia a short way to Kyiv - through the Gomel highway, or through the Chernobyl exclusion zone. But the danger lies not only in this. If we recall what kind of troops of the Russian Federation are located on the territory of the northern neighbor now, it becomes clear that a strike group has been formed on the territory of Belarus, staffed by the units of the VCS and the Russian Airborne Forces with the purpose of launching rocket air strikes on strategic points of Ukraine and the rapid landing of troops.

In general, Anschluss will also change the balance of power in the region and make it almost the most dangerous point in the world; the threat will not only be for Ukraine, but also for the Baltic States and Poland.

This text if first of all for those, who likes the political rhetorics of reestablishing friendly relations and ties with Russia. In 2014 we have driven from the presidential chair just same man, who had been selling the country piece by piece. And moreover, the danger of Ukraine's absorption still is on the agenda. The political conjuncture at the junction of 2018-2019 does not provide guarantees of good prospects in the medium term. It does not matter who will become the president of Ukraine, but what's really important is that after Belarus, Russia will directed all its efforts to finally deal with Ukraine.