Crimean scenario or replacing Lukashenka? Russian diplomacy shaping Belarus’ future

Russia wants Lukashenka to surrender his power to another person as soon as possible; the country should be ready for the Crimean scenario in respect of Belarus. These messages are included in the publication “World In The 21st Century: Forecast For The Development Of The International situation By Country And Region”.

The book was prepared by a group of authors from the Centre for Military and Political Studies of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), the major cadre training unit for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its official subdivision.

‘Lukashenka is a secret nationalist’

To stay in power, the president of Belarus will slow down the country’s integration with its eastern neighbour, and will continue implanting ‘Litvin nationalism’ as a counterweight to ‘all-Russian unity’, MGIMO analysts predict.

The head of the MGIMO Centre for Military and Political Studies is Professor Alexei Podberyozkin, an expert on security and military policy and former Vice Rector for Research. The experts who contributed to the publication are ‘scientists, representatives of military industry field, the Russian Defense Ministry and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs”, the official website says.

Freedom Day in Minsk, photo by Iryna Arakhouskaya

By ‘Litvin nationalism’ they may well mean the classic Belarusian nationalism that considers the Grand Duchy of Lithuania one of the sources of the Belarusians’ ethnogenesis and nationhood. Such distorted terminology is typical of pro-imperial chauvinists who do not recognize the Belarusian nation’s right to be independent of Russia.

“For the same reason [to preserve the unlimited power] Lukashenka will continue to maneuver between Russia and the West, but he will not be able to get any significant financial investments in the Belarusian economy from the EU and the US,” the Russian experts believe.

In their opinion, social and economic tensions will grow in Belarus; an underground network of militant nationalists willing to make an armed stand against the authorities might be formed, the Russians warn.

But it is unclear why the ‘nationalist gunmen’ should oppose the government if Lukashenka is pursuing a nationalist policy. The authors of the book does not seem to care about the apparent logical inconsistency.

Pro-Russian candidate vs. Crimean option

Thus, in accordance with their version, Lukashenka will strengthen those forces which will stage a ‘Minsk Maidan’ in the future. In addition, the Kremlin anticipates strangling the pro-Russian movements and organizations; therefore ‘there will be no organized political force able to resist the pro-Western opposition’.

The Russian experts have made a suggestion that Lukashenka will hand over power to his successor by 2025. Mass protests may also result in his losing power, they say. It should be noted that Moscow does not rule out the intervention scenario in case his follower is not a Russian appointee…

Russian soldiers in Crimea

“Russia should be ready for it and have an action plan following the example of what was done in Crimea in 2014,” the people who do have a voice in Russian foreign policy recommend.

Anyway, the sooner Lukashenka loses power, the better it is for Moscow.

“It is also in the interests of Moscow that the transfer of power in Belarus will take place as early as possible otherwise it will be difficult to peacefully repose power to pro-Russian forces,” the authors warn.

Belarus’ accession to Russia on cards?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Thus, they hope for an open pro-Russian puppet’s leading Belarus to the loss of its sovereignty.

“From the year of 2025 on, the advanced integration of Russia and Belarus will start in the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Union State. However, this will happen on condition that Moscow secures the transfer of power in Belarus to a pro-Russian candidate. If this scenario becomes reality, we could expect that by 2050 the integration processes will go so far that the question of accession of Belarus to Russia will be raised,” they sum up.

The book was published by MGIMO University Publishing House in 2018.

Andrey Babinich/MS,