Vladimir Putin’s appetite has grown; as Russia’s economy is far from perfect and his popularity is sliding, Putin may set his sights on Belarus, US journalist and historian Anne Applebaum warns in an article that she has recently written for The Washington Post.
“The warm glow that followed his occupation of Crimea has faded, his intervention in Syria is complicated, and it would take a real military effort to occupy more of Ukraine. Though he may eventually decide to make that effort, it’s also possible, in the meantime, that Russia will swallow Belarus,” the article reads.
According to the reputed expert, the Kremlin is pursuing a ‘moderate’ takeover model (i.e. taking over a whole suite of Belarusian government operations, including customs, visas, and monetary and tax policies).
“A more extreme version could include the declaration of a new political entity, ruled by a single president, presumably one whose first name starts with a ‘V’,” she stressed.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka managed to stay in power due to his understanding which way the wind is blowing, but if Russia makes him an offer he can’t refuse, then he won’t resist, the journalist believes.
In her opinion, Putin may attempt to restore the Soviet Union.
“But our [the West] apathy has a price. It’s not just that Belarusians may be on the cusp of losing their independence; in addition, Moscow may be on the cusp of becoming, once again, a full-fledged imperial capital, absorbing and ruling over multiple countries <…> Putin once described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest political catastrophe of the 20th century; it stands to reason that, in the 21st century, he would try to put it together again,” Anne Applebaum added.