Belarus blamed Russia last month for stoking Color Revolution unrest ahead of its presidential election in early August, but even though this accusation is completely false, it still risks being instrumentalized as part of a perception management plot to convince its largely Russophilic population to accept the country’s accelerated pivot towards the West (deceptively disguised as a “balancing” act) in the predictable event that President Lukashenko wins another term in office.
The Moment Of Truth Has Arrived
Belarus is getting ready to accelerate its ongoing pivot towards the West in the predictable event that President Lukashenko wins another term in office following the presidential election in early August, but it understands the necessity of crafting the proper pretext for “justifying” this to its largely Russophilic population. Therein lies the significance of President Lukashenko’s latestclaims last month that Russia is stoking Color Revolution unrest in the country despite officially being its trusted CSTO, Eurasian Union, and “Union State” partner. The background behind this unprecedented accusation is the observable deterioration of bilateral ties over the past year, most immediately triggered by an energy pricing dispute but originally traced back to Belarus’ “balancing” act between Russia and the West over the last half-decade. The author examined its genesis and gradual evolution to the present crisis in his February analysis titled “Russian-Belarusian Relations: The Moment Of Truth Has Arrived“, which hyperlinked to nearly a dozen of his previous pieces collectively proving that this politically intense situation shouldn’t have been surprising for objective observers.
Is Lukashenko The New Yanukovich?
For those readers who’d appreciate a concise summary, Belarus basically came to believe — whether rightly or wrongly — that it can best advance its national interests as it understands them to be by “balancing” between Russia and the West, hoping to derive ever-increasing benefits from both sides by playing them off against one another in the New Cold War. This extremely risky strategy is based on the assumption (key word) that neither of them can afford to destabilize this pivot state between them as doing so would undermine their respective regional interests, hence why Lukashenko thought that he could pull off what neither Gaddafi nor Yanukovich were able to do. The hubris involved in such a calculation is jaw-dropping since history proves that comparatively few small- and medium-sized states were able to successfully implement such a policy, with Old Cold War-era Yugoslavia being the most well-known exception. For whatever his reasons may be, whether related to his own personal decision and/or perhaps under pressure from speculative US Hybrid War blackmail, Lukashenko ultimately decided to use his “balancing” act as a cover for tacitly pivoting towards America.
He knows very well that his mostly Russophilic population wouldn’t accept him dumping Russia as Belarus’ primary strategic partner without any “reasonable” explanation, nor have his delusions of geopolitical grandeur blinded him to the fact that his country literally can’t survive without preferential access to the Russian marketplace (including its energy sector), hence the need to manufacture “convincing” provocations to “justify” this unstated but obvious enough grand strategic reorientation that he’d ideally hope to “responsibly” implement as part of a phased process. That explains the serious energy pricing dispute that set the backdrop for the author’s February analysis, as well as the low-level Color Revolution taking place in his country right now. To be fair, Lukashenko also blamed Poland for these domestic political disruptions, but it seems like he’s just trying deceive Russia into thinking that Belarus really isn’t pivoting away from it by blaming its historic regional rival as well even though Warsaw has no such interests in doing anything of the sort anymore ever since Minsk began noticeably improving its relations with Washington over the past few years.
The Fake Color Revolution
It can’t be known for sure, but it might very well be the case that the US and Belarus are colluding with one another to manufacture the optics of a Polish-Russian Color Revolution plot against Lukashenko in order to manipulate the electorate. The mostly Russophilic population would be prompted into supporting his re-election for patriotic reasons in the face of what they’ve been misled into thinking is Polish-led Hybrid War aggression despite possibly disliking his de-facto pivot towards the US. The opposition, meanwhile, might also vote for him in order to defend their increasingly Western-friendly leader from what they’ve been misled into thinking is Russian-led Hybrid War aggression. In reality, no genuine Color Revolution threat exists, at least not at this point, since Lukashenko is purposely allowing the disturbances to fester in order to electorally exploit these complementary narratives of a so-called “foreign threat” to his leadership. Upon winning re-election like most observers predict will happen, he can then crack down on Russian-friendly individuals and organizations for “national security reasons” while simultaneously pivoting more openly towards the US.
Hybrid War Blowback
This is an extremely risky strategy that could very easily backfire in the interim prior to the election but also especially in its aftermath. If Lukashenko gets “cold feet” for whatever reason and begins seriously reconsidering the “wisdom” of pivoting towards the US, then America might fully unleash its Hybrid War wrath against him after the national leader dangerously allowed it to grow to its present point for the self-interested political reasons that were already explained. The opposite side of this same scenario coin is that the mostly Russophilic population might become politically radicalized by Lukashenko’s expected full-on pivot towards the US and impending crackdown against them and their representatives, which could generate a self-sustaining cycle of grassroots Color Revolution unrest. The only credible alternative to that possibility transpiring is if Lukashenko becomes the dictator that the West previously fearmongered that he already was, albeit a pro-Western dictator like many in the “Global South” whose gross human rights abuses against their people are largely ignored by the Mainstream Media because they’re implementing pro-American policies of some sort.
It was an act of unprecedented hostility for Lukashenko to accuse Russia of supporting the nascent Color Revolution against him ahead of the presidential election in August, but this drama is entirely manufactured by him and his new American patron in order to craft the pretext for “justifying” Belarus’ accelerated pivot towards the US in the aftermath of his expected electoral victory. Grassroots Color Revolution sentiment is objectively present in the country from both the pro-Western and pro-Russian sides of the political spectrum, but neither poses any credible threat to Lukashenko’s leadership at the moment. Rather, he’s allowing the first-mentioned and much more visibly active faction of anti-government forces to attract enormous attention so that he can then spin everything around and blame it all on Russia for the sake of “political convenience” in “legitimizing” what seems likely to be a forthcoming crackdown against actual Russian-friendly individuals and organizations during his next likely term in office. By playing with such dangerous political dynamics, however, Lukashenko might be setting himself up for seemingly inevitable blowback sooner rather than later.
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This article was originally published on OneWorld.
Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
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