Lukashenko was recently once again sighted with Putin - this is the fourth time since the beginning of protests in August last year. I don't think there are any other presidents who meet this often. At least not equal presidents, because it's a lot different when the master summons his servant. Being a true boss, Putin welcomed Lukashenko on his luxury yacht Chaika . Hilariously, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced that Lukashenko intends to visit Russia and stay overnight and that Lukashenko has been on multiple visits during which he stayed overnight and that in Russia he feels like home. This is significant as it signals that Lukashenko sees Belarus and Russia as being one entity.
Little off-topic - while Putin spends time on luxury yachts and palaces, competitions are held in Russia to renovate the most awful school bathrooms. While Putin swims in gold, his people are swimming in...
However, this won't be about Putin's luxury lifestyle in contrast to the living conditions of the ordinary people. This also won't be about Lukashenko's obsession with grandeur. This will be about something entirely different.
Putin has been dreaming about restoring the USSR for a long time. Perhaps not dreaming, more like manically obsessing about it. Putin has accepted that it won't be possible on the same scale as the former Soviet Union, but he is doing whatever he can, for instance, by uniting with Belarus and calling the entity the Union State.
Putin has bickered with Lukashenko regarding this issue for a long time. While Lukashenko felt big and powerful, he tried to fool Putin using all kinds of tricks. But after the events of August last year, Lukashenko did everything he could to hand over Belarus to Russia - and the seizing of the airplane has only furthered this process. It's also true that Putin did everything in his power to make sure Lukashenko doesn't meet his demise and drag Belarus along with him.
The beginning of Putin's plan goes back at least to the events of August 2020, when Lukashenko was forced to beg Putin to engage his security forces, if the necessity for such a move would arise. Putin promised Lukashenko he would, and this, in turn, gave Lukashenko the confidence to be more brutal against the protesters, as he felt that he has Putin's support.
The second, and perhaps an even more important aspect - Russia's promise to give a 1.5 billion dollar loan. Belarus also decided to sell 100 billion rubles worth of bonds in Russia. Considering the fact that in recent years in Russia the main buyers of bonds are not foreign investors, but instead Russian state banks, we can be certain of who will buy them out. Russia has done in Belarus the same thing China did to other countries, i.e., made someone financially dependent. For instance, from 2005 to 2015 Belarus received approximately 106 billion dollars from Russia.
Third, Belarus depends on Russia's energy resources. While things seemed relatively normal in Belarus, Lukashenko attempted to establish his own energy policies, but suffered a fiasco. Regardless, Lukashenko's dependence on Putin's generosity is very substantial.
As I already said, for a long time the establishment of the Union State existed only on paper. After Lukashenko's regular meetings with Putin, this issue is being dealt with on almost a "cosmic" speed. The prime minister of Belarus announced that Belarus has essentially completed coordinating its integration programs with Russia. He did, however, add that this doesn't mean Belarus would lose independence. He shouldn't have said anything about independence, because if we look at the symbols of Belarus, it has been lost some time ago.
We also mustn't ignore that fact that on an international level Director of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' (MoFA) Department of Economic Cooperation Dmitry Birichevsky is the one who speaks on behalf of Belarus. He stated that Moscow will protect and assist Belarus if the EU imposes economic sanctions against Minsk.
Additionally, Head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergey Naryshkin stated that Belarusian and Russian intelligence services have furthered analytical and informational cooperation. In 2020, as well as the first half of 2021, both countries saw increased military cooperation - however, it doesn't seem like cooperation at all, but instead more like coordinated activities. What concerns Belarus seizing an airplane to arrest Protasevich, surveillance camera footage from hotels in Crete and the airport prove that Protasevich and his girlfriend were spied on by professionals with Russian passports. There is no doubt that Belarus didn't forge Russian passports. This leaves us with the only explanation - collaboration between Russian and Belarusian intelligence services goes much deeper than analytical and informational cooperation. Essentially, Russian and Belarusian intelligence services are operating as one in order to reach a common goal.
This forces us to conclude that the chess game between Putin and Lukashenko was won by Putin, since the Union State has already been de facto established. I wouldn't be surprised if Lukashenko makes another "unexpected" move (the true aim of which even he won't know), after which the Belarus will de jure become part of Russia. Moreover, this will be done in a way that Lukashenko's current supporters will see it as the only legitimate solution.
I must also mention that Lukashenko did Putin a huge favor, i.e., despite the obvious evidence about Russia's participation in the events in Ukraine, Putin is telling everyone that Russia has nothing to do with what is going on in Donbass. Okay, but how do you explain the following statement made by Lukashenko regarding Protasevich and his girlfriend: "A criminal case has been opened against these persons in Donbass. I reminded President Putin that a criminal case has been opened, and if they [investigators leading the case] have any questions for them, feel free to visit and askquestions.
" What's so special about this? Quite simple - if Putin has nothing to do with the situation in Donbass, why would he need to know that investigators from Donbass received permission to visit Belarus and interrogate the "suspects"? Lukashenko's tongue must've slipped. Or, knowing Lukashenko's manipulation skills, perhaps he said it intentionally to get his "friend" Putin in some trouble as well.