Ukrainians are demonstrating massive support on the social media for the protesters, who demand Lukashenko to finally give up the power and leave. The emotional background is intensified by using the analogy of the events on the Ukrainian Maidan, which forced Yanukovych to escape to Rostov in Russia. Moreover, Putin’s official congratulations on the results announced by the Belarusian CEC, and his expression of hope for enhancing progress towards further integration with Moscow – all this seemed to encourage the official Kyiv to take a clear stand and reaction to the Belarusian processes.
However, such a black-and-white view of the world can be rather demanding, given that any process taking place in the region will certainly come across a complex game of the Kremlin. It is based on the extensive experience of the Soviet and later Russian intelligence services, which have long used the so-called “reflexive control” - the enemy influence by pushing or imposing the necessary solutions. In this case, the influenced object must be certain that it acts in the most convenient way for himself.
Consideration should be given to the motivation of the participants in today’s processes in Belarus, distinguishing them, at least for now, from the events of the Ukrainian Maidan: this involves their attempt to get rid of Lukashenko’s long rule, but there is no strategic view and development program of Belarus among the protesters. Svitlana Tikhanovska who became a symbol of the protests by accident, has not put forward such ideas either. This makes the decision of the official Kyiv concerning its clear position more difficult. However, this does not prevent the Kremlin, by means of its reflexive control, from “pushing” Ukraine and the West to make the necessary decisions, and Belarus (both the government and society) from evaluating these decisions in order to use them in its advantage.
We can notice how Lukashenko’s position has changed before and after the elections. If a few days before the election day the official discourse dealt with the high-profile case of the Wagner fighters’ detention and statements that Moscow made attempts to shake up the situation in Belarus, his last interview after the mass protests concerned not only Russia, but also Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic, from where “they are trying to orchestrate the riots”. Thus, Ukraine is already given the artificially designed image of an external player who seems to be trying to shake up the internal situation in Belarus. This canvas also includes the messages spread by Russian propaganda resources and the so-called “intelligence” on the uncontrolled territory of Donbass, headed by the Russian special services officers. They are about the readiness of the Ukrainian right-wing organizations to be sent to support Belarusian protesters with “financing of George Soros and the former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko”.
Thus, the focus of the processes taking place in Belarus is significantly changing. From the situation when it was possible to witness Russian interference with Belarusian internal affairs and attempts to influence the independent decision of the Belarusians concerning their country’s destiny, in the Russian narrative Belarus becomes the combat zone between Russia and the West. At the same time, Ukraine will play the role of a “Western puppet”, which also seems to have been actively involved into the internal processes of Belarus, using the same methods that Russia is being accused of (then how are the supposed Ukrainian radicals, who stir up the chaos inside Belarus, better than the detained Wagner militants?).
Today, Belarus is at the crossroads depending on how the political crisis will turn out in the future, but Ukraine should be aware of the fact that with the variability of scenarios, it is also given the role in the Kremlin’s complex game. And in order not to fall into the trap, we must try to recognize the Russian plan and counteract it.
Author: Pavlo Lodin