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The absorption of Belarus: we need it?

Поглощение Белоруссии: оно нам надо?

Recently began actively to spread rumors that in the next two or three years Russia and Belarus, and so consisting in the Union state, will merge in a new constitutional community. The option of the Belarusian region will be the new subjects of the Russian Federation. And what then will become of Lukashenka? And the Russian President? And whether to believe any of this?

The Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko made another ambiguous statement: “People deserve a normal life. And we must, while maintaining the independence and sovereignty and to improve the lives of our people. Otherwise, no, this sovereignty would not be necessary. It is a key challenge for all”.

And he added, saying that the sovereignty and independence of Belarus can be “subjected to a serious audit” of the West and East.

Well, about the fact that “there is a threat from the West” – we hear the familiar and yourself, there’s nothing in the hearing does not cut. And from the East who? China is not?

There Belarus has one neighbor — Russia. Why, then, would be “the man” so right not to tell, saying that Moscow bears aggressive plans against Minsk, but we no inch of its land to Russian imperialists will not give up. An no, the reason he’s so straight the situation is not outlines, preferring ambiguous phrases.

Actually, this whole politician Lukashenko — clever, cunning, experienced, able to maneuver between the much stronger players, while managing not to obey either of them, but to direct their power in rivalry with each other. And for him, “batko”, location.

The current “evil one” Lukashenko is a kind of response to the spread (deliberately or not and by whom — then we can only guess) in Russia for political “get-together” rumors that supposedly prepares ambitious project the next extension of the “Russian world”. This time at the expense of Belarus. Conspiracy theorists that support this version of events, justifying it with the fact that the Union of Russia and Belarus into a single state will be a kind of answer to “the problem of 2024”.

Then, he says, can be pereubedit the Russian presidency.

Supposedly the current Russian leader Vladimir Putin after his last constitutional term at the head of the Russian Federation will not have to look for another job, and nothing he will not lead the new state. And Lukashenko will be the second person.

This version, frankly, looks a bit too blocky, even clumsy.

However, the main argument in her rebuttal — not even the clumsiness, and the fact that in our country the spawn has not happened, including in post-Soviet Russia to such large-scale plans of state reconstruction would be planned in detail already 6 years ahead of time, and then be all strictly followed this plan. We are not China with its ten-year cycles of political planning, which work like a clock.

But more importantly, this is something that no geopolitical or political benefits of such an operation is not obvious. But such rumors cooked, perhaps a good atmosphere for the subject of bargaining with the Belarusian President in a very specific socio-economic and foreign policy issues. That was more tractable.

In recent weeks, the most dramatic issues of discord between Moscow and Minsk was Moscow’s refusal to reduce Belarus gas prices to domestic, as well as issues of compensation of losses of the Belarusian budget from so-called “tax maneuver” in Russia with respect to petroleum products (transition to the severance tax instead of export duties).

From this maneuver Belarus assesses its losses only in 2019 in the amount of 383 million dollars, while the price of a barrel of oil at 70 dollars, and losses for the entire period of implementation of the maneuver — up to $10.5 billion In turn from Moscow to Minsk has accumulated claims on the part of customs. It’s about the fact that in Belarus in particular are products fell under Russian kontrsanktsii. For example, only illegal cigarettes from Belarus goes to Russia to 5.5 billion units, and in the border regions, the proportion of such cigarettes is one fifth of total sales.

A few years ago, even openly accused Minsk of re-export of oil products obtained from Russian oil under the guise of solvents and diluents. Because Russia supplies oil and oil products to Belarus free of duty (under the intergovernmental agreement, every year from Russia to Belarus duty-free was supplied until the last time 24 million tons of oil), the Minsk was obliged to remit the duty on export of petroleum products outside the Customs Union to the Russian budget. And because paint thinners and solvents not included in the list of products subject to duty, no transfers to the Russian budget and has not been done.

This oil and gas grant the Belarusians estimated the Russian Treasury of $2 billion.

Until the end of 2018, the export duty of crude oil was 30% of its total cost. Since 1 January, it will be gradually reduced until full repeal in 2024. At the same time on the same percentage will be increased severance tax.

According to some estimates, Russian oil and gas transfer to Belarus in the form of hidden subsidies for 2012-2017 years amounted to at least $30 billion, which is about 8% of Belarusian GDP over this period. Evaluation of the transfer in 2018 — about $4.3 billion, which is about the same 8% of GDP. If, for example, Russia has received in the past year, the transfer from outside of 8% of GDP, it would exceed $120 billion.

This would help to achieve all the social goals set in the may decree of Putin. In addition, Belarus at the beginning of 2018, owed Russia $7.3 billion on government loans, and this year Minsk expects to receive from Moscow has a billion dollars to refinance them.

And when Lukashenko was “capricious” in Moscow started talking about the need for “deep integration”.

But it is unclear what the brotherly country fall to such favorable conditions. Yet, instead of such integration, the Minsk began more actively to flirt with the EU, and in recent weeks, and even with the USA. In particular, it was decided to restore the number of staff of the us Embassy in Minsk until the previous 35 people. On the background of the now openly hostile relations between Moscow and Washington such a step difficult but be regarded as a demonstrative and even calling.

In addition, Minsk with the outset of the conflict in Ukraine took towards Kiev is not just a neutral and even friendly position, including supplying it with petroleum products produced from Russian duty-free oil. Finally, an ally of Russia has not recognized the annexation of Crimea, although, strictly speaking, no special sanctions Lukashenko is not threatened. It is difficult this behavior is to be considered something other than a light blackmail neighbor to the East.

However, reaching agreement on the truly allied behavior, and the abandonment of “fiscal dependency” does not mean indispensable, “absorption of Belarus”. Why?

This state though young, but established political culture, which is different from the Russian, largely focusing on former Soviet rules and principles. The population of Belarus is not eager “to join Russia”, return to “home port”, in contrast to the population of the Crimea in 2014. Moreover, the loss of its sovereignty will be perceived by the Belarusians is very negative. Russia’s political and economic model does not limit national dreams.

Rather, a European project. And excessive persistence on the Russian side of “deep integration” may just such a Pro-European mood more enhanced. Making them more anti-Russian.

What, one wonders, to Maidan in Belarusian the blue? Globally, these steps will be moreover perceived quite clearly — as another manifestation of the so-called Russian aggression. Finally, from the point of view of the political life in Russia itself, in our country, just no request for the accession of Belarus. In contrast to such a request in his time on the reunification with Crimea.

If someone simplistically thinks that only in this way solely deft spin doctors are going to solve “the problem 2024”, that is, transit of presidential power from Putin or his successor, or some new Russian state structures with redistributed powers, we must admit that in this case the option alumiunium such a difficult policy, how is Alexander Lukashenko, is not the most brilliant “debut.”

There are plenty of other, far less troublesome options.

But if the merger of Russia and Belarus is inevitable, of course, need to be aware of what we feed Belarus, as already feed Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, and recently joined the Russian Crimea. On the one hand, it seems that it will be difficult, if to this list will be added to the six Belarusian regions. On the other, Russia is still not seen. We was not so. And may still be.

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