Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Love that Consistency on Belarus'!

Up to a few months ago, Russia was being loudly condemned by many in the West for its "support" of the Lukashenka government in Belarus', especially through energy subsidies. Now that Russia has cut off crude oil supplies to Belarus' because the Russians charge Belarus' is siphoning away oil meant for Western customers (who are paying cold hard cash for it), the same people are talking about Russia's use of the energy blackmail weapon.

So, has Lukashenka now become a "freedom fighter"? We've seen this before--when the ex-Communists of Moldova went from being targets of a colored revolution to becoming our new best friends once they broke with Moscow. Should we be expecting commentary in the next few days about how Lukashenka is really a good guy (borrowing from the Ilham Aliyev script)? Stay tuned.

Would love it if they did. Actually, everybody out here in Belarus is pretty unhappy at he moment. Perhaps it is true that the country generally has a bit of a cloudy outlook, but yesterday and today have been pretty much black. But they really do support the poresident and should the EU and US lighten up on the man, it would go a long way towards softening relationships.
Dr. Gvosdev,

In some ways, it's a positive sign that Russia is blackmailing Belarus. While before this I was predisposed to believe that Russia turned its weapons specifically against political liberalization, it now appears that its desire for more currency has some elements of apoliticism.

On the other hand, the tearing up of contracts, apolitically, represents a symbolically threatening event to the Western power structure. For what other reason has Evo Morales been considered a threat to the U.S.?

I don't necessarily agree with denominating all contractual disruptors as threats to U.S. security, but I understand the tendency to associate.

On the other hand, what to make of Russia's arguments that sales of oil to its ex-republics should no longer be subsidised, but should reflect market prices? On the surface, it's hard to contradict the sentiment, no?
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