Why the presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan are coming to Kyiv


More, Op-ed

Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov

The fact that the presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan, Alexander Lukashenko and Nursultan Nazarbayev, have decided to visit Kyiv on the eve of the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Council in the Russian capital — in other words before a meeting with Putin — is in itself a serious signal. A few months — or rather weeks — ago this joint action would have been hard even to imagine. Lukashenko has been trying desperately  to maneuver between the necessity of remaining in Putin’s good graces while at the same time not quarreling with Ukraine. Nazarbayev has never even sought any balance. During the Crimean crisis US President Barack Obama and other Western leaders phoned the Kazakh president. Many seemed to think that Nazarbayev could persuade Putin not to make an irreparable mistake. But the president of Kazakhstan not only made no attempt to influence his insane neighbor but actually supported Putin.

Understanding dawned on the leaders of Russia’s allies as they realized that Putin would not stop at Crimea or even at the occupation of a part of the Donbas. Furthermore, Putin has demonstrated blatant contempt for his allies. Both Lukashenko and Nazarbayev learned about Russia’s so-called “food anti-sanctions” on TV. Since that time there have been constant conflicts among the member countries of the Customs Union. In one instance Russia limits the import of Belarusian products because it decides they are really European goods,  in another it bans transits from Belarus to Kazakhstan.

When Western sanctions first began to be felt and the price of oil began to drop, Lukashenko and Nazarbayev were visibly worried. Lukashenko initiated a careful dialogue with the West. Nazarbayev actually organized Putin’s recent meeting with French President François Hollande, evidently hoping for a compromise. But the crash of the Russian ruble changed everything. The very model of cooperation between Belarus and Kazakhstan and Russia has been destroyed. For Lukashenko, it is clear that Russia will no longer feed him. And Nazarbayev, certainly, has fewer problems, but that is true only so far. Besides, he cannot be certain that in his attempts to salvage his popularity Putin will not send “green men” to northern Kazakhstan.

The visits to Kyiv by Lukashenko and Nazarbayev demonstrate that Putin’s two partners want to establish stability and peace in the post-Soviet space. If Putin shows himself incapable of understanding that, then any post-Soviet integration, even in its present form, will come to an end.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych

Source: Radio Svoboda

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  1. Avatar Paul P. Valtos says:

    It’s about time that they see Putin’s real colors. He will stop at nothing to seize whatever land and nations he wants to rebuild great Imperial Russia no matter what it’s called.

    1. Avatar W8post says:

      Looks familiar??……”Back to the Future” [sic]

  2. Avatar Brent says:

    I’m not sure I would put too much trust in either of these two as they are historically Putin’s lapdogs who fear him more and tow the Kremlin line. Lukashenko is a shameless opportunist and Nazarbayev would risk too much taking Ukraine’s side as he is too far geographically from the West for anyone to come to his aid considering how Georgia and Ukraine were deemed out of the West’s sphere of interest.

    I think their real mandate is to be an ‘advance team’ for Putin to tell Poroshenko how Putin wants this settled without “Volya” having to do that himself so that he can come in and pretend he is a man of reason. They will likely be there to coerce and strongarm Ukraine into what to expect, which is likely capitulation, more territorial concessions and a renewal to join the failing Eurasian trade association. This sounds too similar to Merkl’s visit before the failed Minsk accord where she tried to convince Poroshenko not to fight but to negotiate a settlement with Russia. We all saw how that turned out and how much of that agreement Russia and its sponsored terrorists have abided by….

    I hope Poroshenko is careful with them, but I do not hold out any real hope they are in any way there to help Ukraine in its solitary struggle against imperial Putin and his dreams of infamy. Given the failure of Minsk, there is little likelihood of reaching any reasonable deal with Putin and his terrorists that will be honored and the fight must continue until the World finally stops making empty gestures and ways to get Ukraine to capitulate to Russia and really starts helping Ukraine…that may take longer than Ukraine is financially able to hold out.

    1. Avatar Michel Cloarec says:

      But why not use them so far to put an end to this agressive war in Ukrainia !
      Can Putin promise anything and everything, can we do in West too !
      Then good bye, thank you very much, happy new year ! See you in 50 years!

      1. Avatar Brent says:

        I certainly hope you are right and that is the reason for their visit, but I think they are both in this for themselves. They both also still fear Putin.

        The problem with our Western leaders is they don’t follow through on the promises and ‘posing’ they love to do. I’m saddened how many want Ukraine to negotiate and capitulate. I’m saddened how many don’t value human lives over economies and are willing to let more Ukrainians die to appease their own industrial leaders.

        1. Avatar Michel Cloarec says:

          It seems that everybody want a compromise, and that will be, we are living in 20 th century ! Poroshenko wants a compromise but not on Putin´s conditions. The french did not deliver the mistrals. 400 navy men went back to St P.
          Merkel has the most difficult seat with export to Russia falling down. But she does not give up. Another aspect is that in thursday eu voted 500 millions euros to Ua. But the needs are around 15 billions. Can EU loans this ? Yes ! But corruption must disapear. Think how happy the corruptors would be with 15 Big ones . To help Ua is a big load for EU. The global economy is not that good ! So even many are for sacrifices, it must be for a good cause with a resultat.
          Unfortunatly it is Crimea which will pay for the broken pots !
          Putin will have his extra oil fields in territorial water around Crimea and base for his nuclear weapons nearer to Europa.
          That has been his goals since 2003 !
          I am optimistic anyway because the % export to Russia is not as big as we believe . France has factories in Russia, Renault,Nissan,Lada conglomerats .50 % of parts produced in Russia. And it works ! because these 3 brands are small cars !
          But one way or another Putin´s days are counted ! He had 20 years to put Russia on its feet, where are we today ? ask the russians !

          1. Avatar W8post says:

            ” Crimea which will pay for the broken pots “, no ‘broken pots’ then in Donetsk/Voroshilovhrad?

          2. Avatar Michel Cloarec says:

            Sorry ! The broken pots in Donbas can be repaired, but for that putin has to leave Donbas in peace and take home his terrorists. But because he can´t lose his face, probabilities that he will give up Crimea are null ! So in the end the compromises are lying there . Free Donbas with the same autonomy as the other oblasts in Ua, but Crimea to Russia!
            Without Crimea it would not have been LPR/DPR which have been used as fog to keep the attention of the world on Donbas and forget about Crimea ! I must admit that is the only tactic which I can recognize has been right from Putin´s side. While his strategy was completly wrong because he did not think that Ukrainia would withstand and that West would support Ua : Now he has to pay the price, and be humilliating himself in 3,5 hours in front of 1200 journalists and on TV to all russia . So far I have not found a positive article on his speech on any newspapers in West !

          3. Avatar Michel Cloarec says:

            Voice of America today December 20

            VOA News

            December 20, 2014 6:53 AM

            Russia says it has a historic right to Crimea and has dismissed new U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia because of its annexation of the territory.

            The Russian foreign ministry said Saturday the sanctions will not force Russia to give up Crimea because Crimea is a “historic and integral part of Russia.”

            U.S. President Barack Obama has imposed a wide-ranging trade ban on the Russia-annexed Crimea peninsula through an executive order that bars exports of key U.S. goods and services and blocks Crimean imports.

            A White House statement Friday said the order is “intended to provide U.S. clarity to American corporations doing business in the region.” The statement also said Obama’s action is intended to demonstrate that Washington “will not accept Russia’s occupation” of Crimea.

            Crimea had been a republic in the former Soviet Union but in 1954 was attached to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Crimea remained part of Ukraine when that country became independent at the break up of the Soviet Union.

            The trade ban includes sanctions on 24 individuals and companies identified as contributing to unrest in eastern Ukraine. The Russian parliament voted in April to annex the region, despite protests from the European Union and Washington.

            The U.S. measures follow similar moves this week by the European Union and Canada.

            President Obama on Thursday signed into law a bill authorizing additional sanctions against Moscow for its support of the ongoing pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

            Obama said the legislation, known as the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, gives his administration additional flexibility to impose new measures against Moscow, “if circumstances warranted.”

            The law also authorizes $350 million in lethal and non-lethal military aid to Ukraine, including anti-tank weaponry, munitions and surveillance drones.

            The Russian Foreign Ministry, in a statement Friday, described Moscow as “deeply disappointed” in the U.S. law, calling it “unacceptable and provocative.”

          4. Avatar W8post says:

            How far does Russian history go back? or in other words: How far do they LIKE the history go back? Talking ’bout history, even the Turks can claim more ‘ownership’ of Crimea than Russia! (or the Greek, or Italy [through the Roman Empire])

          5. Avatar Michel Cloarec says:

            I know you are right ! But so it is , you can´t change a russian, only if you kill him can you stop him ! (there are 142 Millions ) They have their own history for almost 100 years !

          6. Avatar Dean Venture says:

            I’ve noticed Russia prefers to rewrite the history it doesn’t like 😉

          7. Avatar Michel Cloarec says:

            This statement from Lavrov is bullshit of course ! But they are convinced they are right. Trying to change the mind of a russian is almost impossible without using violences !

          8. Avatar LorCanada says:

            I rather think that for the Russians “bribery” opens all doors.


  3. Avatar Jacks Channel says:

    Good. Let Putin crash and burn into a smoking pile of personal and economic carbon matter ruin. Then he will be “yanukovyched”.

    Have you heard lately that Putin keeps talking about his nuclear weapons? What is wrong with this mad man? Putin is garbage as a human being and is not fit to be a leader.

    1. Avatar Michel Cloarec says:

      Funny , that he does not seem to know better that nowadays it is possible to destroy any missiles just when they leaves their ramps !
      Is that what he wants ? Or if he knows, that is why he wants to place them outside russian territory !

      1. Avatar W8post says:

        I wonder how far Puto will go with the fortification of Crimea. What he REALLY wants is free access to Crimea through Melitopol. From one side out of the Crimea and on the other side Donbas: works as tweezers on Melitopol/Berdyansk. (it’s cheaper than a bridge and/or tunnel at Kerch)

        1. Avatar Michel Cloarec says:

          You are absoluty right. I understand your dilemma. But what can we do about it ?

          1. Avatar W8post says:

            Could be an answer to your question…

    2. Avatar Michel Cloarec says:

      We are dealing with another kind of people. I am not sure they are from the same planet ! So it is , only chance would be complete extermination !

  4. Avatar Dean Venture says:

    Now that there’s no money in Moscow, perhaps Russia’s ‘friends’ are starting to look around for better options. Why stay in an economic union with an obnoxious partner who can’t buy anything? Russia has only half the financial clout they carried earlier in the year, and I suspect that will continue to shrink.