Feature

The risks of dumping Belarus.

The week's news at a glance.

Russia

Mikhail Rostovsky andValentin ZvegintsevMoskovsky Komsomolets

Putting an uppity dictator back in his place may sound tempting, said Mikhail Rostovsky and Valentin Zvegintsev in Moskovsky Komsomolets. But the Kremlin will regret strong-arming Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. For years, Russia tolerated Lukashenka’s grandiose and insulting behavior; at one point, Lukashenka even suggested that he become president of a proposed joint Russian-Belarusian state. No wonder the Kremlin has run out of patience. Yet its new policy is worse. Demanding that Belarus pay near-market prices for oil and gas will cripple that country’s economy. And Russia’s insistence that the joint state be hierarchical, not an equal partnership, amounts to “the absorption of Belarus into the Russian Federation.” Russia is leaving Lukashenka with no real choice: He must either surrender or be destroyed. “That’s hardly an example of diplomatic finesse.” Nor is it wise. Once Lukashenka is gone, “the West will immediately move in” and try to foment a “color revolution.” Moscow will have thrown away its influence over a neighbor, as well its reputation as a reliable energy supplier. What a “favor to the West.”

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