Can a Housewife Stop Putin from Getting What He Wants in Belarus?
Tatiana Stanovaya, head of R.Politik and nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said that Putin’s plan is to integrate Belarus into Russia and that the mercenaries may have been in Belarus, not necessarily with the Kremlin’s knowledge, to scope out the lay of the land.
The move for integration is one that Lukashenko has resisted. The former Russian ambassador to Minsk, Mikhail Babich, spoke of greater integration when he started the post in 2018. He has since been dismissed by the Kremlin after he annoyed the Belarusian president by meeting with representatives of the opposition.
“The problem is that Putin is afraid that Lukashenko might not be strong enough to manage the situation in case there is a color revolution, So he is saying, ‘We are here to help,'” Stanovaya told Newsweek. “Lukashenko was not very happy with this help and he thinks he can manage. He doesn’t want Russia to get involved like this. He has shown that Russia must stay at a distance, that he can manage himself.”
“There are some risks we will see some mass protests in Minsk and in this case, Russia will have to get involved, but not military involvement,” Stanovaya said. “They are afraid this Western part of society—as they see it—may steal Belarus from Russia. Putin is worried that now we have a rather a short amount of time to secure Belarus as a zone of Russian influence,” she said, adding that Putin is thinking, “If not now, we may lose Belarus forever.” “I am afraid there are some forces in the Russian elite who might propose to Putin to get involved more closely,” she added.