Belarus falls out with the West for good

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MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Arseny Oganesyan.)

A serious crisis has developed in relations between Poland and Belarus, Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld said on July 28.

Warsaw has recalled its ambassador from Minsk. Several hours previously, Minsk officials abrogated the plenipotentiary powers of Polish diplomats in Belarus in response to the eviction of Belarussian diplomats from Poland, Belarussian Foreign Ministry officials said.

This Polish-Belarussian crisis is a small step in the cold war that the West has declared on Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko.

U.S. State Department officials and EU commissars are likely to toughen their anti-Lukashenko rhetoric, and pro-Western media will put more and more emphasis on the regime's anti-democratic tendencies as presidential elections in Belarus approach. Elections may take place as early as next year.

Lukashenko knows this only too well. He also understands that he will not be able to come to terms with the West, and thus is already doing everything possible to reduce all external influence - including from Russia - on Belarus's domestic affairs to the absolute minimum.

The Belarussian leader says that the U.S. has already earmarked $24 million or, according to the latest data, $32 million, for a revolution in the country in 2006-2007.

Tatyana Stanovaya of the Center for Political Technologies said that "funding of the opposition and the work of U.S. budget-funded independent media is conducted from Baltic territories."

She added that the presidential elections in Belarus next year may be a turning point, and that the U.S. and Western Europe will refuse to recognize them as legitimate a priori, giving the opposition the hope to overthrow the regime.

Russia's decisions in this context remain to be seen. Lukashenko said recently that the United States needs Belarus in order to control the flow of Russian resources into Europe.

"Americans want to shut this small window to influence Russia and Europe," he said.

Moscow's attitude is two-fold: On the one hand, Lukashenko is continuing his typical anti-American rhetoric, while on the other, he is obviously urging Russia to help, hinting that otherwise it will only lose.

But Russia and Belarus are not very good friends today. Lukashenko obviously mistrusts Moscow, otherwise the long-term bilateral integration project would have produced some results. For the time being, Lukashenko cannot or does not want to offer Moscow anything better than the status quo. Yet, realistically, he can only hope for Moscow's support.

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