Putin has become a useful idiot for Lukashenko, and Lukashenko is an accidental favorite of the West
Article by Pavel Latushka, Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, for Rzeczpospolita (PL)
The paradoxical nature of the current situation lies in the fact that Lukashenko regime which is totally dependent on the Kremlin and has actually been called a coaggressor in the war with Ukraine, even under the conditions of the most severe sanctions against Russia can relatively manage to get away with it.
Sanctions against Russia for the unleashed war against Ukraine are destroying its economy, and the pre-default state has already become a fixed reality for this country (CCC — credit pre-default rating). In fact, Russia has already declared a technical default: for example, a decree was adopted on the possibility of paying off debts to "unfriendly countries" in Russian rubles, which is a gross violation of debt obligations. The next inevitable step is the default.
Nevertheless, the current situation with sanctions against Russia, on the one hand, questions the likelihood of Belarus receiving further credit support from the Kremlin. On the other hand, in the absence of mirror sanctions against the Lukashenko regime, prerequisites arise for the creation of a gray offshore zone in Belarus, where the regime may find itself in much more favorable conditions than Russia and earn actively while Russia is rolling further into the abyss.
In fact, Putin’s former useful idiot Lukashenko is now changing places with him. And while all the sanctions pressure is concentrated on Russia, this blow touches Belarus only tangentially.
And this looks like the greatest mistake of the Western governments and international sanctions regulators. The non-application of sanctions against the regime in Belarus, identical to those already adopted against Russia, creates favorable conditions for Lukashenko: he will continue to provide Russia with the territory to carry out military actions against Ukraine and thereby "pay off" his former debts to the Kremlin — and in parallel he will strive to stay afloat, earning on the status of offshore.
Simply put, for reasons that do not seem entirely clear, today while imposing sanctions the West "forgets" about Lukashenko, despite the fact that it considers him a co-aggressor in the war against Ukraine. And thus, the Kremlin retains a springboard for the continuation of military operations, without which the Russian invasion of Ukraine would have been much more complicated.
Such an inconsistent position of the West towards Lukashenko, in our opinion, can be regarded either as banal myopia, or as political negligence. In any case, this affects the interests of both the Ukrainian people, against whom a brutal war is going on right now, largely from the territory of Belarus, and the Belarusian people, who have already experienced a year and a half of mass repression by the illegitimate regime, which gave up Belarus to the Russian troops and right now is making money on it.
The West can correct this negligence only by eliminating a huge sanctions hole in the form of the Belarusian offshore. And it must be done immediately.
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