Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

Expert: Lukashenka Political Future at Stake

On Tuesday, Alexander Lukashenka ordered to block the transit of Russian gas to Europe. Thus the Belarusian-Russian gas conflict has reached a new level. The news portal www.UDF.BY asked the head of the analytical centre "Strategy" Leanid Zayika about the cause of such a sharp reaction of the official Minsk to the claims of the Kremlin.

- Even during the toughest confrontations of past years, all Lukashenka’s threats did not go beyond words. Now the Belarusian authorities themselves initiated the aggravation of the conflict. Why so?

- I think that the situation will be completely controlled in manual mode by Putin and Lukashenka. The price of the issue is recognition of the results of the forthcoming presidential elections in Belarus. Lukashenka is actually driven into a corner and intends to use threats unacceptable for a transit country. The situation is somewhat similar to Ukrainian, but for Lukashenka it is much worse than for Tymoshenko.

- Who will pay the penalty?

- This is a tangled thing, because each contract provides for arbitration. This may be the economic court of the CIS, as well as other international institutions. But in reality, decisions of courts of arbitration have no direct effect. Rather, they are advisory in nature, and the parties themselves determine whether they want to implement that decision or not or what part of it to implement.

But in general this situation needs no arbitration. Everything that is happening is a show that has no relation to the economy. This is an issue connected with the new personnel policy of the Kremlin. The Kremlin will now appoint presidents in post-Soviet "bundustans". Otherwise, it is absolutely unclear why Russia, which produces gas at a cost of $ 15 per thousand cubic meters, needs to demand from its closest ally to pay 10 times more. So all this is just a show.

- How may the parties come to an agreement?

- The agreement should look like this. First, the parties are assigned to their original positions. Then the Belarusian and Russian leaders return to negotiations. But the questions: who owes who and how much and who turns the valve – are now secondary. The main thing for Lukashenka is to retain the power. If the Kremlin now does not touch upon the issue of the presidential elections and their recognition, then the question will pop up in November, closer to the beginning of the election campaign. And for Lukashenka Russia’s recognition of the elections is a matter of life and death. His political future is at stake. And he will fight desperately, trying to reverse the situation. So in the autumn we may await the second act of a thrilling theatrical show.