Tag Archives: belarus

The Eastern Partnership

Good news that the western, democratic, and globalized countries of the European Union are building an “eastern partnership” to help states formerly dominated by Moscow to keep their independence and, as important, their globalizing trajectory.  

Fears of Russia weighed heavily on the minds of those who went to Prague this week to launch the “eastern partnership”, a project meant to improve economic and political relations between the European Union and six former Soviet republics: Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. This low-budget project has no military component and may not make much of a difference, says Fyodor Lukyanov, a Russian foreign-policy pundit. Still, Russia sees the EU as a competitor in its sphere of influence and reacts fiercely to any interference, such as Belarus being told that recognising South Ossetia and Abkhazia would hurt its prospects with the EU. That the summit was followed by a conference on Nabucco, a gas pipeline meant to bypass Russia in the south, was just another irritation.

Also good that Belarus is included in that list.  When I last talked about the Eastern Partnership, Belarus was not involved. Belarus was once a friend of Russia, until Putin began destroying the soft power he inherited from Yeltsin.

Russia is essentially a white version of Nigeria, without Nigeria’s accomplishments of a peaceful foreign policy or an English-speaking elite. Aside from client regimes created through military invasion, no country or statelet has any desire to become closer to Russia.

No wonder.

International Institutions

Two international institutions that have been in the news these days are the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Union State of Russia and Belarus (USRB). The IMF, created by America after World War II and run by Europe, is in the process of turning the financial crisis into an opportunity, forcing market reforms and increased openness in exchange for large government loans. The USRB, a relic of Yeltsin’s foreign policy, seems to exist only to show the destruction that Vladimir Putin has done to Russia’s power in the world.

Consider, for example, Belarus going to the IMF for a loan, after empty talk of Russia bailout out Iceland was shown as just another of Putin’s bizarre stunts. (Iceland went to the IMF, too.)

Or that the Republic of Kosovo, sliced out of Russia’s former client Serbia, will also join the IMF. Or that all Russia could do to help its Union State partner Belarus was to suspend collections of natural gas payments.

It pays to have friends. Russia’s nemesis Georgia will get $200 billion from Japan. And Kosovo is getting rule-of-law assistance.

Talk of a “new cold war” is so laughable, because Russia’s in no position to fight one. During its heyday, Russia was able to prevent Poland and Czechoslovakia from joining the Marshall plan. Now half of the consistuent members of the USRB are going to the IMF. Putin may be Saddam with nukes, but Russia’s is also just an exceptionally beligerent Portugal. Like a driveway that collects ice, Russia’s a real danger to those who live in Europe. Russia must not be ignored, and Europe should take steps (such as increasing nuclear power and photovoltaics) to limit the danger. But there’s no need to hyperventilate about Russia, either.

Time is our friend. Russia’s demographic collapse is now compounding: the baby bust of the fall of the Soviet Union leads to an even greater baby bust now. Meanwhile, Chinese and Muslims increase as a fraction of Russia’s population. Russia is essentially a central Asian state, and the sooner it falls into China’s orbit (with the rest of the khanates), the better.

The IMF grows in influence. The Union State of Russia and Belarus is split. The Core grows, and the ability of the Gap to cause trouble shrinks.

Update: Russia slaps sanctions on Belarus, while Belarus pushes for a Belarus-EU Free Trade Area. Belarus increasingly looks like a “Seam State,” bordering New Core (Poland, Lithuania, Latvia), Seam (Ukraine), and Gap (Russia) states and being able to work in any of those environments.

The Courtship of Belarus

The most interesting story of the past few weeks that has received no attention has been the courtship of Belarus by both the European Union and Vladimir Putin. Belarus was formerly the most friendly of the post-Soviet states toward Russia, but Vladimir Putin’s destruction of the “soft power” built by former President Yeltsin had put cooperation on ice. Stay, Putin has been playing nice since the international rejection his unilateral recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Putin temporarily sees the need for friends.

While Belarus still refuses to join Russia and Nicaragua in recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Belarus has apparently allowed those two statelets to join the Union State of Russia and Belarus as observers. Europe’s attempts at friendship rely less on one-off subsidies and more on building political and financial links. Thus, Belarus and EU member Latvia are working on energy and portage, and the EU pushes Belarus to allow European politicians in.

If the future is international institutions that focus on economics, then Belarus’s future should be in Europe, not in Russia.

Let’s hope Belarus agrees.

The Slow Realiagnment in Eastern Europe

Before Russia’s invasion of Georgia, the most important thing about Belarus to many in Europe was that it was not European enough.

Now, the most important thing is that it’s not Russian.

The EU has lifted its travel ban on Belorussian officials.

There is talk of Belarus building nuclear plants. Hopefully they will buy them from France, or take other measures to add Belarus to the Seam along with Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova.

Meanwhile, on a day which saw record-breaking stock surges throughut the world, Russia’s stock market fell even farther.

Belarus, between Russia and Europe

Russia is looking around the world for a friend, besides Nicaragua. Russia used to be surrounded by clients such as Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, but Putin has burned through Russia’s soft power and lashed out at New Core states that could have prevented mentorship to the Gappish Muscovite regime.

Currently, Russia is doing its best to save something of the close relationship that Yeltsin was able to maintain with Belarus. Indeed, one of Yeltsin’s main achievements was forming the Union State of Russia and Belarus, which optimists called the “United State.”

Of course, Belarus realizes that Russia’s friendhship is made out of Moscow’s self-imposed isolation… and that this is a good bargaining situation for Minsk. So there’s been a flurry of news, with Russia and Europe both becoming closer to Belarus, and Belarus playingg Russia and Europe against each other. So Russia and Belarus strengthen defense ties, while at the same time Brussels is thawing relations with Minsk.

The most balanced take on Europe-Belarus-Russia has been the Voice of America’s article, “Frictions Emerge Between Belarus and Russia.”

This is well and good. Europe should try to contain the worst exports of Gap states like Russia, while building enough connectivity with seam states so they can eventually integrate with the core. Thus Europe should support new democracies such as Ukraine and Georgia, as well as authoritarian states opposed to Russia, such as Belarus and Azerbaijan.

Roll back Russia. Support Belarus

I’m no fan of Belarus’s dictator, Alexander Lukashenko. He is a third-rate goon in the mold of Slovak strongman Vladimir Mecier. I’ve previously called for Lukashenko’s overthrow. However, while Belarus is a beach of authoritarianism to the island of democracy that is Europe


Democracies in Green. Belarus (dictatorship) in Pink and Russia (dictatorship) in Red

But Russia is much, much, much more dangerous than Belarus could ever be. Indeed, seen in the proper context, Belarus is infinitely more useful if she is a buffer to Russia than if she serves that Bear


Democracies in Green. Belarus (dictatorship) in Pink and Russia (dictatorship) in Red

Roll back Russia. Support Belarus.


Free Belarus from Russia. Then Free Belarus

Democracy can come to a Belarus free of Russia faster than it can come to a Belarus that belongs to Russia. Europe and the west must take Russia’s blackmailing of Belarus as the opportunity it is to splinter Moscow’s hold on the Eurasian Heartland.

Don’t let Russia threaten Belarus.

White Russian People Power

Belarusian National Republic,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belarus_National_Republic.

Protesters clash with police in Belarus, 150 people arrested,” Kyodo News, 25 March 2005, http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=8&id=332026 (from Coming Anarchy).

I’ll sign off tonight on some hopeful news. Really hopeful news. Belarus may join Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan

Pro-democracy protesters clashed with police in Minsk near the palace of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday and 150 protesters were arrested, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

The police made the arrests after some 1,000 pro-democracy protesters reportedly tried to gather near the presidential palace, demanding democratic reform.

As you can tell by the national shield, the Belarussian government never got over its Soviet fix

Interesting, not only are Belarussia’s historical symbols much more “European”

medium_belarushistoricalcoatofarms.png

They still have a government-in-exile from the post-World-War-I days. Nifty!

Let’s hope!