Putin Reprising in Belarus Stalin’s Tactics in the Baltic Countries in 1939-1940, Felshtinsky Says
September 23 – In the wake of the August 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which
gave him a free hand in the Baltic countries, Stalin first demanded that
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania allow the establishment of a Soviet military
base in that country, then introduced ever more Soviet forces, and finally
annexed the three.
Russian-American historian points out that “until June 22, 1941, Hitler was
Stalin’s ally. Today, on the European continent, Russia has no allies, and
therefore the chances for Belarus to remain on the map as an independent state
are higher than they were for the Baltic countries” in 1939-1940.
for the preservation of these chances,” he argues, “Lukashenka must refuse to
sign an agreement with Russia on the placement of Russian forces in Belarus.
Otherwise,” he suggests, “the Republic of Belarus again risk becoming the
Belorussian Republic” under Moscow’s control.
is not a lot of time left, he says. “On September 18, Russian President
Vladimir Putin signed a decree about the annexation of Belarus” by directing the
Russian defense and foreign ministries to secure the agreement of the
Belarusian side to the establishment of a Russian air base in Belarus.
document, Felshtinsky points out, does not consider the possibility that
Belarus might not agree, as TASS coverage has made clear since the beginning of
September and as Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has underlined by
saying that the goal of the base is “joint protection of the borders of the
Union state in the air.”
state,” of course, is “the Russian Federation plus Belarus,” the historian
It should be
noted, Felshtinsky continues, that “the Republic of Belarus is called ‘Belarus’
only in formal government documents (as for example in Putin’s decree of
September 18) while in all reports and speeches of government officials and in
the Russian presss Belarus is called by the old Soviet term Belorussia.”
What is most
striking, however, is that Moscow is claiming agreement from the Belarusians
even though there is every indication that Mensk has not given it and that
Moscow is simply ignoring the Belarusian government and going ahead with its
plans to create and expand its military presence in the neighboring country.
“All this means,”
the Russian-American historian says, “that in Moscow a death sentence has been
issued to Lukashenka because in the wake of the jets, Moscow will send Russian
land forces into Belarus. With the help of these forces, following the Crimean
scenario, Lukashenka will be overthrown,” just as the Baltic governments were
not displayed the resistance in public that he appears to be offering in
private, at least in part because he cannot count on Western support given the
West’s continuing description of him rather than of the Russian president as “the
last dictator in Europe.” But the Belarusian people are a different story.
During a visit
to Mensk this week, Andrey Piontkovsky says that the only thing Putinhas managed to achieve by his pressure on
Belarus is a growth in the national self-consciousness of the Belarusian people,
a trend that the Russian analyst suggests is “irreversible.” Moscow thus faces
real problems ahead in its Western neighbor (gazetaby.com/cont/art.php?sn_nid=101817).