One interview with Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Uladzimir Syamashka was enough for the topic of Russian-Belarusian integration to take a leading place in the Ukrainian media space and social networks. The diplomat’s statements were taken as evidence of the imminent takeover of Belarus by Russia, while the upcoming meeting of Presidents Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin — as the final act of such a takeover.
At the same time, the fact that Syamashka’s words about the single parliament and the government were disavowed by his own embassy a few hours after the interview was published almost escaped the Ukrainian observers.
Kyiv waiting for “integration point”
Kyiv does not very closely follow the process of Russian-Belarusian negotiations on integration issues, and, by and large, does not really understand the depth of this integration, as well as the slyness, which Alyaksandr Lukashenka has already shown for 25 years, when Moscow demands the last, decisive step for the unification of the two former Soviet republics into a real, not a simulated “union state.
On the other hand, there is a good understanding of the symbolism of what is happening here, which is dangerous for Ukraine. A meeting of the Russian and Belarusian presidents is scheduled for December 8. And on December 9, Vladimir Putin is going to Paris, where a meeting in the “Normandy format” and the first negotiations of the Russian president with his new Ukrainian counterpart are to take place.
And it turns out that after ‘coping’ with Belarus, Putin will go to Paris to ‘cope’ with Ukraine. Thus, the Belarusian scenario looks like a scenario of the future not only for Minsk, but also for Kyiv.
Why not offer what the Belarusian president will agree to on December 8th to the President of Ukraine on December 9th – albeit in a lightweight (so far) form, without a single parliament and government? But with economic preferences, so important for any president, who promises his voters social benefits?
One trump card of Putin against Minsk and Kyiv
Moreover, the main trump card in the negotiations with both the Ukrainian and the Belarusian presidents is energy. Lukashenka plans — according to Syamashka — to discuss the price of Russian energy with Putin, as well as the upcoming meeting of Prime Ministers of Russia and Belarus. However, Ukraine is also interested in maintaining large volumes of Russian gas transit through its GTS even after the completion of the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline.
The other day, the conditions for maintaining transit were discussed at the first bilateral talks between the energy ministers of Russia and Ukraine for many years, and the possibility of discussing the transit issue during the Normandy Summit was recognized by President Volodymyr Zelensky himself.
And here, of course, the most important question arises — what will Vladimir Putin ask for his energy favor from Belarus? And what will he ask from Ukraine?
Vitaliy Portnikov for belsat.eu
The author’s opinion may not coincide with that of the editorial board.