Russia's intention has never been regime change, despite frequent and noisy anti-Lukashenka campaigns and speculations over possible support for opposition candidates. For Moscow, any other president would mean a large new opening to the West.

The Russian policy merely intends to guarantee the loyalty of the Belarusian leader and to get Belarus' most important economic assets – energy transit and oil refineries – under control. Russia certainly does not want to weaken Belarus too much and therefore will be ready to support Lukashenka’s regime financially (as it has before), should it be necessary. Moreover, Belarus makes Russia look more democratic.