Apology from Putin, criticism from an ally: is something collapsing in Moscow?

  • In an interview, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko first expressed amazement at the length of the war in Ukraine, and then news of Putin’s apology to Israel spread.
  • Are these indications that something is collapsing in Russia?
  • Political scientist Martin Koch is skeptical.
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Disputes actually get a lot more attention than later apologies. This time it was different: because it wasn’t just anyone who apologized, but the Kremlin boss, Vladimir Putin himself. A man who is otherwise only interested in the rules of the game if they are in his interest.

You can find more information about the war in Ukraine here

More specifically, it is about the anti-Semitic statements that his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had made before. Many Jews in Ukraine are anti-Semitic, and Lavrov claimed that Hitler also had “Jewish blood”. Israel reacted outraged, summoned the Russian ambassador and demanded an apology.

Phone with Putin

According to Israel, these should have existed in the meantime. At least that’s what Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said after a phone call with Kremlin boss Putin. Bennett accepted the apology and “thanked for clarifying the president’s attitude toward the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust,” he added.

The Kremlin initially left this unconfirmed. From Moscow, it was only said that the Russian president emphasized the friendly relations between the two countries during the phone call. However, there was also no refusal of an apology.

Lukashenko doubts success

As unusual as Putin’s apology may seem, it was not the only incident that caused a stir: Almost at the same time, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko came to the parade and questioned Russia’s successes in the war against Ukraine.

In an interview, Putin’s close ally admitted that from Russia’s perspective, the invasion doesn’t seem to be going as planned. “To be honest, I didn’t think the operation would last this long,” Lukashenko said in an interview with the AP news agency. “But I don’t know enough about the problem to say if everything is going as planned, as the Russians say,” he added.

Discreet criticism of Putin

The affront in Moscow included even more: Lukashenko called a nuclear strike “unacceptable” and called for an end to the fighting in unusually clear terms. “We categorically do not accept war. We have done everything and are doing everything so that there is no war,” Lukashenko said. In Putin’s words, however, this is just a “special operation”.

He launched negotiations, Lukashenko added, but asked: “Why is Ukraine, on whose territory the war is really taking place – military actions, people are dying – why is Ukraine not interested by these negotiations? The Kremlin must have taken note of his interview with displeasure. Moscow cannot count on the unqualified approval of Belarus.

And this despite the fact that Russian troops also invaded Ukraine from Belarusian territory at the end of February and that Lukashenko blames Ukraine and the United States for the war. Is something collapsing in Moscow or how do you explain these strange events?

The expert is skeptical

Political scientist Martin Koch is skeptical. “I don’t think Putin really made a clear apology,” he said. The Kremlin only confirmed the phone call, but there was not a single syllable of apology. “I doubt a real ‘mea culpa’ from Russia,” says the expert.

Nevertheless, he is certain: “It is in the interests of Russia and Israel that the dispute be settled quickly. In fact, the two countries need each other: Putin does not want to upset Israel because its weight in the Middle East is not negligible. Israel has one of the most modern armies in the world. At the same time, Russia is an important strategic partner for Israel’s security, especially given sworn enemy Iran.

“The collapse in Russia can certainly not be inferred from this process”, specifies the expert Koch. However, Lukashenko’s statements also surprised him. “Through his interview, he effectively took a certain distance and moved away from the unconditional brotherly defense”, analyzes Koch.

Read also : All current information about the war in Ukraine in the live ticker

What could be behind

Although the Belarusian leader has repeatedly and clearly defended in the past that Russia should attack Ukraine, “but now he has also shown respect to Ukraine for being able to delay the war for so long”, said said Koch. What lies behind is difficult to assess, according to the expert. Just a few years ago, Putin and his allies made sure the protests in Belarus could be crushed. Putin had now hoped for support from Belarus.

“Lukashenko apparently doesn’t want to fraternize too much with Russia, but he doesn’t want to annoy Putin too much either,” Koch says. After all, many people in Belarus fear that Russia could annex the country which is entirely economically dependent on it.

No proof of resistance

According to the Ukrainian portal “Nexta”, when Putin spoke of a “trinitarian” nation of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, Lukashenko felt obliged to deny that he was not planned to join. Russia. Lukashenko’s statements could put Putin in his place, at least a little.

“Despite everything, I don’t see any crumbling within Russia, not even within the army,” underlines the expert Koch. Expecting internal resistance is unrealistic. “I don’t currently see any signs of resistance that could pose a threat to Putin,” he says. There is no real opposition movement, no strong anti-war movement or anyone taking a clear stand against Putin. “The opposition was constantly repressed and the population cannot get information through alternative communication channels,” he recalls. From the point of view of the Russian population, the war was going on successfully.

About the Expert: Dr PD Martin Koch is a political scientist and teaches at the University of Bielefeld. His research interests include international relations theories, global society research, and political sociology.

Sources used:

  • Merkur.de: Putin’s ‘trinity’: Lukashenko must now even deny Russia’s membership – ‘We are not that stupid’. 04/16/2022.
  • AP News: AP Interview: Belarus admits Russia’s war is “dragging on”. 05.05.2022.

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