New portions of anti-Russian statements, which are more and more regularly "broadcast" by the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, in fact, are not at all surprising. What was to be expected after his statements about “alien wars” and dissociation from the Great Patriotic War, incidentally, picked up by many state Belarusian media? Against this background, the words about the “uselessness of integration with Russia” and the inadmissibility of creating “military alliances” with it against someone there sound completely natural.
The turn of Minsk from an alliance with Moscow is becoming more and more obvious, and all that remains is to recognize it as a fait accompli. The question is different. It seems that, seeing Lukashenko’s behavior that has radically changed recently, the intention to “go to the West,” many experts who have expressed such assumptions have miscalculated. The new fate of Belarus, most likely, lies in the opposite direction ...
I would be glad to Europe, but "sins" are not allowed
The recent visit of Alexander Grigoryevich to Austria, widely discussed in the media (including domestic ones), is a fine illustration of the utter futility of the desperate attempts of the Belarusian leader, in his own words, to “open a window to Europe”. This trip ended, in fact, with nothing. In fact, it is only a demonstration to the whole world of the fact that Lukashenko, freed from sanctions, can now more or less freely move around it. The mere fact that in Vienna he was “poked with his nose” immediately into the extremely painful issue of the “civilized world” the death penalty, in the presence of which there can be no question of Belarus joining any official EU structures, more than eloquent. Austria is a country respected and enjoying weight, but Brussels, on which the adoption of really serious foreign policy decisions depends, does not intend to make concessions to Minsk on cardinal issues in the least. Yes, there they are trembling in the knees afraid of the real integration of Belarus and Russia, which, according to many European experts, "will completely change the balance of power" in the Old World. Yes, they would have given a lot to prevent it from happening. Yes, the patented Russophobe, the head of the Polish Foreign Ministry, Jacek Chaputović, laments today that “European countries must uphold the sovereignty of Minsk” (read: do your best to disrupt its unification with Moscow), and to hell with those “reforms” that no, and “imperfect democracy” ... But the “first violin” in the European Union is still not played by Warsaw, and in other capitals no one is going to open their arms to the “last dictator”.
The clearest example of this is the publication of "colossal violations" in the process literally on the eve of the country's parliamentary elections, which appeared in the Western media before the vote on them, in fact, ended. And the intention expressed by Alexander Grigoryevich to once again occupy the presidency is unlikely to cause enthusiasm there. No, the position of the West regarding Belarus is unlikely to change for the better without global changes in its political a system that Lukashenko will never accept. However, he himself understands all the possible consequences of turning the foreign policy by 180 degrees. It was not without reason that after the Austrian voyage of the president, the words of the Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei were voiced that Minsk “in no way wants to repeat Kiev’s sad experience in the field of European integration” and is not going to “act in its logic”. And what, by and large, can the same European Union offer Belarus today, and, most importantly, personally Lukashenko? Games in the "Eastern Partnership" and stories about some vague "prospects"? The main issues facing the local authorities today are purely in the material sphere. Already calculated: next year, the financial losses of Minsk from the termination of previously existing preferential schemes in the field of energy imports from Russia will amount to more than $ 420 million. This is an assessment of the first deputy finance minister Yuri Seliverstov there. But there are also debts! In 2020, Belarus needs to pay $ 2.6 billion in foreign loans, and in addition to somehow "block" interest on them in the amount of $ 1.2 billion.
Previously, this issue was solved simply: in fact, with newer and newer loans from Russia, which made it possible to repay on time the interest that had accrued on old debts. In fact, the real volumes of payments by the Belarusian side of Russia for years remained at zero. However, now this "Lafa" seems to have ended completely. Having realized that without serious and real progress in the integration processes, it would not receive either $ 630 million directly from Moscow, or $ 200 million under the program of the Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development, Minsk, as it became known, did not put a single ruble of Russian loans into the 2020 budget. We’ll have to start “eating up” the gold and foreign exchange reserve, from which, according to Presidential Decree No. 402 of October 31, 2019, 1.5 billion dollars will “go” just for the debts. The reckoning is expected to be a decrease in the currency interventions of the National Bank on the domestic market, aimed at maintaining the stability of the Belarusian ruble. Nevertheless, they still expect to attract about $ 2 billion "to attract through external borrowing." The same International Monetary Fund, although it has become very lively in the light of the upcoming financial problems of Minsk, and even made some kind of “recommendations” regarding “overcoming the consequences of the tax maneuver,” has no money to give Lukashenko in his thoughts. According to the Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Belarusian National Bank Dmitry Kalechits, in this direction "there are not even negotiations being held." Some have linked Lukashenko’s recent trip to the United Arab Emirates with an attempt to “catch a little bucks” (some billion dollars!). Perhaps such intentions existed, but they were unlikely to be realized - judging by the deathly silence of Minsk. However, help came - but on the other hand.
Belarusian and Chinese - brothers forever?
According to the Minister of Finance of Belarus Maxim Ermolovich, before the end of the year “it is planned to conclude a loan agreement” in the amount of $ 500 million with China. Such a bright prospect was announced by him at the “October Economic Forum” in the capital there. Well, Minsk takes one more step towards economic depending on Beijing. That's just, most likely, in this case, the economy will not be limited to only one economy. It really seems symbolic that this time China is financing Belarus not with Russia, but instead! Moreover, in Minsk they very much emphasize and emphasize that moment that "they found an alternative to Moscow." Yes, the amount allocated by the Chinese comrades, frankly speaking, fades against the backdrop of billions of credit lines, seemingly opened by the Celestial Republic of Belarus in 2014 and 2015 for the implementation of joint projects that began after the country joined the Beijing initiative “One Belt, One Road”. However, just this loan plays the role of the very “spoon”, which is extremely expensive “for dinner”. It should be noted that the declared billions for the most part have so far remained declarations. Yes, the foundation of the future joint Sino-Belarusian “economic breakthrough” in the form of the Great Stone technology park was laid back in 2015. China today is the second largest in terms of imports from the country and the third among its trading partners. However, not everything went as wonderful as originally planned, and for both sides.
According to the results of last year, the volume of direct investments in the economy of Belarus from China increased to record volumes, but at the same time did not reach up to 110 million dollars and turned out to be the third after Russia and Cyprus. Moreover, more than 40% - money not invested, but borrowed. Yes, and the trade balance of the same “Great Stone” is still negative - imports prevail over exports. Until recently, Beijing, despite all the loud statements about the "expansion and deepening" of cooperation, was not in a hurry to invest heavily in Belarus. There were several reasons for this. First of all, the Chinese comrades are used to investing really huge amounts in the economies of those countries, where, if necessary, they will be able to "recapture" their investments in any situation. They cautious with Minsk exactly as long as he remained a real, and not a nominal ally of Moscow. They did not intend to spoil relations with Russia for the sake of a country disproportionate in importance. And now Lukashenko is demonstrating almost hostility to Russia with all his might. Perhaps in the Middle Kingdom they decided that their hour had struck. And I must say that by this moment they were preparing ahead of time. At the beginning of this year, the Center for the Study of Belarus was opened in Liaoning Province on the basis of the Dalian Polytechnic University. And not so long ago, a whole Institute for the Study of Belarus appeared at Lanzhous University of Economics and Finance! The Chinese are very serious and pragmatic people, especially in certain respects. If offices of this kind are already opened there, then, there can be no doubt, not “for show”. They will probably be financed properly and deal with a specific business. And as you know, to study and research in the Celestial Empire are taken only what they intend to get serious profit from ...
The presence of Chinese companies, in spite of seemingly record-breaking capital investments, today exists in all regions of Belarus, in all sectors of its economy. In Minsk, the signs duplicated besides the national and English languages by hieroglyphs are no longer surprising anyone. Yes, yes - without the Russian version ... The attractiveness of this country for its maximum integration into the spheres of its influence - economic, political, military, is very high for Beijing. In addition to the fact that it can really become the key for the New Silk Road to enter Europe, in the Middle Kingdom see millions of citizens brought up in harsh discipline and law-abiding. This is important to them. But the “horrors of totalitarianism”, frightening and shocking gentlemen from the European Union, such as the death penalty or irremovable power in the country, are just a plus for the Chinese comrades. There is another, extremely important point. It is worth recalling that the friendship of Beijing and Minsk began in the 90s precisely on the basis of large-scale purchases by the Chinese side of the products of the Soviet military-industrial complex. Now the situation, it seems, has changed exactly the opposite. In any case, the Belarusian Polonaise multiple launch rocket system, introduced in 2015, was created with the active assistance of Chinese experts. However, certain developments in the military sphere (and not only) from the Soviet era, probably found in the bowels of the safes of some Belarusian enterprises, are probably of interest to Beijing. His activity in a similar direction, manifested in Ukraine, is proof of this. However, the Americans do not allow them to turn around there. But maybe everything will work out in Belarus?
By the way, back in 2018, Alexander Lukashenko, at a meeting with the Minister of Defense of the Celestial Empire, said that “it turns out that China played a“ leading role ”in strengthening his country's defense capabilities”! Then they didn’t pay attention, but in vain ... Maybe now they would cut their ears less than the most impudent demands to provide Minsk with Russian weapons at all “for free”. Yes, and presented after receiving a batch of brand new Su-30SM. And now, by the way, about providing this “fraternal country” with the latest weapons, in the light of the above, it would be worth considering. It is better then to send them immediately to China - to study ... What in this case should Russia do? Well, first of all, to admit that Minsk under the protectorate of Beijing is still not the worst option. Not Americans, not NATO after all. It seems to be also our allies, including the military. But in general, the choice is small. Either admit his own crushing foreign policy defeat and either accept the extremely extortive demands of Alexander Grigoryevich, whose appetites are growing every day, or else allow Chairman Xi to deal with him. Or, take decisive and urgent steps to take some radical actions to normalize the integration process. So far, on the anniversary of the creation of the Union State, we have not received a red flag with golden stars over Minsk ...