Having suffered increasingly obvious “fiascos” in Ukraine and Syria, Vladimir Putin now needs “a victory,” Dmitry Oreskhin says. “And it turns out that Belarus and Lukashenka are the most suitable variant whom he could defeat with minimal costs” because “Belarus could not hold out for two weeks” if Moscow moved against it.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Belarusian Service, the Russian political analyst says his conclusion reflects not what “fascist and nationalist groups” in Russia want – their influence on the Kremlin is minimal – but on Putin’s needs, something “much more serious than aggressive young people who take part in Russian Marches.”
According to Oreshkin, “Putin is seeking a formula which will allow him to justify his remaining in power without any change. The formulas can be various: opposition to the West, in-gathering of the Russian lands, the restoration of the USSR – something that will create a crisis situation so that people won’t be inclined to change horses in the middle of a stream.”
“During the last two years, such a crisis situation was created in the east of Ukraine, as a result of which Putin’s ratings in Russia strongly rose,” Oreshkin says. “But now people are beginning quietly to understand that things haven’t worked out as planned: Ukraine hasn’t joined Putin’s Eurasian Union, many people have been killed and Ukraine is moving toward Europe.”
Now it appears to them that Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka is also turning toward Europe because he needs money, and “everyone understands that Putin doesn’t have any.” Lukashenka has refused to agree to the opening of a Russian base there, and that has left Putin in a cold fury,” the Russian analyst says.
Everywhere he looks, Putin sees “fiascos” in Ukraine and in Syria “where the more involved he gets the more obvious that will be,” with Russians “gradually beginning to understand that someone blew up the airliner and the tragic losses of life as a result are “somehow connected with Syria.”
Consequently, Putin needs a victory, Oreshkin concludes, and Belarus and Lukashenka are “the most suitable” candidates that could give him one, especially since Moscow could overthrow the one and occupy the latter at “minimal cost.” If the Kremlin leader sends in the Russian army, “Belarus would not hold out for even two weeks.”