As we reported on the blog yesterday, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus is in the middle of a considerably unpleasant energy dispute with Vladimir Putin and Gazprom. Some observers argued that Lukashenko would either have to 1) seek help from Europe (and suffer through their criticism of autocracy and human rights) or 2) give in to Russian demands (and give up even more energy distribution assets). What few people expected is that the crafty dictator would turn to the Axis of Resource Nationalists – appealing for some emergency cash from his close friend Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
Very interesting indeed. Even though the two leaders share a mutual distaste for electoral process and free media, and despite Lukashenko claiming that the two countries share “absolutely identical” views on world politics, it seems doubtful to me that Chavez would do anything to damage his relationship with Putin. If Venezuela does end up loaning Belarus the funds, it will have happened with the Kremlin’s blessing. Then again if Chavez doesn’t think it is Venezuela’s job to prop up a former Soviet dictatorship, Iran will probably be next on the list – perhaps it is part of their new “strategic partnership.”