Kremlin unhappy about Minsk’s independent position on Ukrainian crisis and Eurasian integration
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov will pay a working visit to Belarus to discuss the international and regional situation, including the crisis in Ukraine.
In recent statements, President Lukashenko and Foreign Minister Makei underscored their dissatisfaction over recent agreements with Moscow and pointed to certain problems with the Eurasian Economic Union. In addition, during his visit to Ukraine to attend Poroshenko’s inauguration, President Lukashenko made rather bold position statements about the Russo-Ukrainian crisis, which could be interpreted as support for the Ukrainian side. It is worth noting that Belarus is reactivating its Western policy, which also brings some dividends to Belarusian leadership. If pressured by the Kremlin, however, the Belarusian authorities might be prompted to coordinate their positions on sensitive issues, such as Eurasian integration and the Russo-Ukrainian crisis, with Russia.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.