July 18 – July 24, 2022
Belarus-Russia relations

A new ambassador but old problems

The situation has not changed

Lukashenka continues to speculate regarding Minsk’s recognition of Russian proxy entities in Ukraine. Dmitry Krutoy replaced Vladimir Semashko as Belarusian ambassador to the Russian Federation – a prelude to a new stage of integration activity.

In an interview with Agence France-Presse in Moscow, Lukashenka revealed the root cause of Russia’s attack on Ukraine: Ukrainians allegedly insulted and demonised Putin. This argument, which boils down to Putin’s revenge on Ukrainians, does not fit very well with Lukashenka’s insistence that Russian action was a “preventive strike”. “You, NATO, the Americans, wanted this war. If Putin had not launched this operation, you would have started it, [and were] already organised. He just got a little ahead of you,” Lukashenka said.

He also admitted that he acknowledges the existence of Crimea, Lugansk and Donetsk, which he says constitutes recognition. He has not ruled out the possibility of recognising these proxies de jure by decree, but he does not see the need for it.

On July 22nd, having returned from a trip to Tehran (his second foreign tour since the beginning of the war), Putin telephoned Lukashenka. They discussed the standard range of issues of bilateral cooperation, including import substitution and the international agenda. They also agreed to appoint Dmitry Krutoy, the deputy head of the administration of self-proclaimed President Lukashenka, as the new Belarusian ambassador to Russia.

The current Belarusian ambassador to the Russian Federation is Vladimir Semashko, who, until 2018, was the first deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus. He replaced Dmitry Mezentsev in this post, who is now listed as State Secretary of the Union State. The appointment of ambassador Krutoy, who oversaw the development of union integration programmes, heralds more integration and import-substitution activism, indirectly indicating that Minsk and the Kremlin do not expect any progress on the “southwestern front” shortly.

August is the holiday season, a period of relative calm. Still, when Krutoy settles into his new post at the beginning of September, it is easy to expect the traditional intensification of union building.

On the eve of the start of this process, Putin has prepared a small surprise for Lukashenka. He instructed to find 9 billion roubles to equip Belarusian schools. The “VEB.RF” corporation could help finance this project, and Putin has issued a request to this effect to the head of the company, Igor Shuvalov.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of leading Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries to the most topical and relevant issues, including on behind the scenes processes ongoing in Belarus, in Russian and English.

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