Andrew Kane

May 30, 2021

3 min read

What are the consequences of detaining a journalist for Putin and Lukashenko?

The consequences of Belarus’ action in forcing a commercial aircraft to land on its territory continue. Belarusian authorities have decided to force a Ryanair airliner bound for Lithuania to land in Minsk to detain one of its critical journalists.
So far, Moscow has said it has no plans to intervene in Belarus and the European Union, but Moscow’s main goal seems to be to wait and see where things go. Moscow had used the strategy of patience before; Last year, when protests against Lukashenko began, Moscow was initially the only observer and only took action when it took a narrow turn.
Moscow’s only hope is that the European Union will consider the same amount of sanctions sufficient and will not decide to impose sanctions on Moscow through Lukashenko. In the meantime, of course, Britain has taken a stubborn stance against Moscow. In addition to recently announcing that it considers Russia its number one enemy and primary threat, it intends to impose sanctions on the Stream 2 and Yamal-Europe rolling pipelines. Russia exports its energy to Europe through these two pipelines, and it is interesting to note that the Yamal-Europe pipeline passes through Belarus.
It can be said that Moscow is at a crossroads; A dilemma that he is very willing to avoid for economic reasons, on the one hand, Moscow has to save Belarus from its predicament, and on the other hand, it has no desire to become tenser with Europe because of doing so.
The main question here is how Europe’s reaction can affect Russia, as well as the government and the opposition in Belarus. Moscow considers any threat against Belarus a threat to itself.

Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordering Russia to the east. The flatness and lack of geographical barriers, along with the lack of natural protection aspects, have made it difficult to maintain the country’s independence in the presence of more powerful countries in the region. Belarus on the plains of Northern Europe, as the geopolitical highway of Europe, has historically been the invasion of Russia by European powers such as Germany and France, and vice versa. This geographical location has made Belarus a barrier between Russia and Europe, which can be considered as reasons for the trip, as well as Mike Pompeo’s suggestions for a trip to Minsk:

First, Belarus has been importing crude oil from Russia to Moscow for years at a low price, without paying taxes, and after refining it, supplying it to other countries with significant profits. Russia, which has helped Lukashenko through loans and energy subsidies for the past 25 years, has cut aid last year. Disagreement between Belarus and Russia over an oil supply deal has forced Moscow to cut off supplies to Belarusian refineries. Belarus is one of the most industrialized republics of the Soviet Union and is now a major trading and transit hub for Russian energy to Europe, making it a permanent hotbed of competition between Russia and the West.

Russia claims that Belarus must accept greater economic integration with Moscow to gain access to affordable domestic energy resources. But Belarus, fearing further dependence on Russia, has begun buying oil from Norway, with plans to buy from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The US Secretary of State’s offer to supply Belarus with all the oil it needs will be a reassurance to Lukashenko of a change in his country’s energy strategy. The recent boom in US shale oil and gas production has made Russia one of the most important threats to its energy dominance in Europe.

Second, the cessation of oil supplies as Russia’s latest attempt to put pressure on the Belarusian government to maintain the Kremlin’s influence over the country, given Belarus’ response to replace oil resources, shows that tensions between the two countries go beyond energy security. Goes and enters the political phase.