Alexander Lukashenko’s statements that he is a EU supporter should be viewed in the context of his other unfriendly statements addressed to Russia, Russian experts told EADaily. They say all this speaks of the crisis in the relations of Russia and Belarus that has spilled over the economic field into ideological aspect.
On March 15, Lukashenko expressed his support to European Union saying EU along with China and U.S. is one of the key poles of influence in present-day world. As for Russia, the Belarusian leader decided not to mention in as such. "I fully support a multipolar world and the EU, the most powerful pillar along with China, the US and the EU, this is an influential foundation for the planet," the president resumed. "If it disappears, misfortune will rear its head," he warned. “At all costs, the EU needs to be preserved. I do not agree with all your Brexits and national movement. It is not my personal stance (though my personal too) and it stems from international state interests. The more pillars, the more stable the system is, that’s why I’m a supporter of the EU," Lukashenko said.
Mikhail Aleksandrov, political scientist, a leading expert at the Center of Military and Political Studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, says Lukashenko “unveiled his true face” in that statement and his true attitude towards Russia-Belarus integration. “The people of Belarus gave Lukashenko government mandate at the time. He promised to reintegrate Belarus with Russia and create a union state. He promised to wage pro-Russian policy. In fact, what we see is Lukashenko’s efforts to retain his grip on power in the territory of the Russian world, which Belarus belongs to. What we see now? Trying to retain his power, Lukashenko is more and more sliding to Russophobia. He has to stop objective processes of integration of two peoples. He has to fight with them. In this fight, he walks farther and farther from friendship and cooperation with Russia,” Aleksandrov says.
For such policy, Lukashenko needs counterweights like EU. “He began worrying as soon as EU started falling apart. Even U.S. Ambassador to EU says EU is not the most important pillar, and Britain is leaving it. Influential European politicians say EU has become unnecessary. Meantime, Lukashenko suddenly felt ‘affection’ to EU. Evidently, he hoped EU would help it oppose Russia and the objective tendency of reintegration of the Russian and Belarusian peoples. Once ally, he has turned into de-facto enemy,” the expert says.
President at the Institute of National Strategy Mikhail Remizov says the relations of Moscow and Minsk at the lowest point now. Trade and economic discrepancies triggered ideological conflicts and spoiled personal relationships of the two countries’ leaders.
At the same time, Remizov sees nothing reprehensible in Lukashenko’s efforts to establish relations with EU. Furthermore, he says, Moscow had been pushing the Belarus president towards EU for a long time. “Lukashenko rightly said Moscow had always pushed him to EU by taking Lukashenko’s discrepancies with EU in 2000s as its own problems. Hence, for Minsk aspirations to establish relations with EU do not challenge Moscow,” Remizov says.
However, he says, the recent statement can be viewed in the context of other unfriendly statements by the Belarusian leader addressed to Russia. Remizov recalls that Lukashenko had made even more serious and alarming statements against Russia, for instance, his words about the fight of “fraternal” Ukraine for its independence.
As EADaily reported earlier, Alexander Lukashenko made a scandalous statement in late January saying, “Fraternal Ukraine is fighting for its independence.” Perhaps, he meant the bloody war Kiev unleashed in Donbass. “We are a peaceful nation, Perhaps, God has set these heavy tasks to us to help us feel what independence is. We can overcome all this only through unification. Thanks God, the key area of our fight for independence is economy, not military or political field,” Lukashenko said then.