I was watching the 1962 Nezhemetdinov-Chernikov chess game which is famous for the queen sacrifice after which, Nezhemetdinov went on to win the game. So many experts are saying Putin is about to sacrifice Lukashenko so I did a quick analysis of the chess board and developed my theory on how this game will play out.
Belarus is under an all out political attack spearheaded by Poles and Lithuanians to the west, Ukrainians to the South and Germans, nearly all of EU, UK and certainly the Americans adding their support.
What will the Russian response be? How will it end? Will it be Belarus joining the EU and NATO? Becoming another failed state like Ukraine? Another poor European nation like Lithuania? Well, one thing is certain. The Vectors of Russian strategy and tactics have never been understood by Europeans. They have learnt no lessons in how Russians fight and how they play. While Clinton, Nuland and their European friends were thinking they had tasted victory in Kiev by causing a putsch, a regime change, Russians quietly, peacefully, without firing a shot, took Crimea. Donbass erupted and Russians made sure it also seceded from Ukraine. So Russians let Western powers do all the dirty work, did nothing to save the corrupt and cowardly Yanukovich and took the territory they wanted essentially by doing nothing.
There is a risk of a maidan like regime change riot in Minsk. Does it matter that most protests are genuine and people, especially young people are totally fed up of Lukashenko? It matters. Are Russians very fond of him? Not at all. But Kremlin has had no leverage over him. So Kremlin has let it play out and might have fuelled it all just a tad bit. The protests have caused Lukashenko to panic and he has made some mistakes. Russia has to first make sure he does not panic enough to abandon his office and run away too soon like Yanukovich. Scared and confused, yes, panicked, no. In fact he should not run away at all. A very large majority of Belorussian people have been voting for him and voted this time as well. For that kind of voter, Russians even keep Lenin’s dead body in Red Square. They are not going to give up on Lukashenko and lose all that Belorussian support.
He has done a lot of good for his country when Russia and Ukraine were crumbling, he arrested the collapse of #Belorussian economy. When Baltic countries saw catastrophic situation with their industry, economy, employment and demographics, Belorussia was an island of stability and growth. Millions of young people left Lithuania and Latvia forever while Belarus remained the most stable and growing economy of the region. Belorussian voters know that and vote for that. So Russia is not going to demonize Lukashenko. It is just going to make him into a drama queen.
So what exactly is Putin doing ? First he gives reassurance to Lukashenko voters by telling them there are Russian reserves waiting to come help if situation gets out of control and the streets burn. Second, in greater part than Poles, Russian state media is keeping the pressure on Lukashenko by not only showing the protests on TV but questioning Lukashenko’s motives and sanity, all day, day after day in dozens of broadcasts.
The anti-Lukashenko reporting on Russian State TV has been incendiary anti-Lukashenko. Enough doubt has been seeded to unhinge and make him unpopular.Third, Putin sent that pompous , arrogant sycophant actress Simonyan, head of RT, the one of Bashirov-Chepiga infamy, to pump up Lukashenko’s ego and give him false hope that Russia is behind him. She, with three other Kremlin propagandists were sent to feed horseshit to Lukashenko.
And she did her job exactly with as much competence as she had interviewed Bashirov-Chapiga. She also declared that Minsk was totally normal, a wonderful European city, where the only thing happening was ” nothing was happening at all.” That must work wonders for her credibility. Hers was a weather report based on tarot cards. Even she should know how stupid it is to report ” all is normal on the Belorussian front.”Meanwhile Navalny has come out of coma from whatever he overdosed on and should be back in play soon in Russia, playing fiddle on the sidelines and being as irrelevant as always to real politics.Coming back to the chess board. Here are the few next few moves to look out for. Putin is not playing this game with Europe. Poles and Lithuanians can pump themselves into all the excitement they want, Putin is not playing their game – they are playing Putin’s. Nor is he engaging with Bundeswehr on the Novichok move.
Merkel might be a good chemist, but she too is a terrible chess player. She is getting nothing for this move because it is self defeating. Lukashenko has been set up now by Russians to order a referendum and bring 60 to 70 % of the vote which is solidly with him, to vote for a near-complete integration with Russia. Belarus will become Rus. Second, having served this purpose, he will stay on as long as he wants as head of that autonomous Republic, even for 10-15 years more as did Tatarstan’s President Shaimiev.
He will not be sacrificed, and he will live his life with dignity in safety and security albeit without any real power. This means Russia once again gets a border with Poland and Lithuania and some much sought facetime with the Americans. Merkel achieves nothing and her whole tactic to pressure Russia fails. She will learn she can’t send three pawns – Warsaw, Vilnius and Navalny – to take a King. Putin is letting the Europeans apply maximum pressure because it only pushes Lukashenko in his direction and creates an ideal scenario for integration. They will do all the work, and the spoils of victory fall in Putin’s lap.
Europeans have created a completely false sense of threat of regime change in Minsk without actually any real chance of it happening. Putin just made sure Lukashenko thought the threat was real. And he is ready to dance all over the chess board like a Knight.So what about the queen sacrifice ? There is none. This is not that game. Putin will give nothing.This game is going to end without a maidan, without a shot fired, with Russia gaining a mass of 200,000 sq kms of territory, and 9 million people. Putin and Russia will get all of Belarus and the Russophobic Baltic and European States will get some hair dressers.
The 1962 Queen sacrifice? Well that’s a classic worth watching anyway.