Russian President Vladimir Putin must have an eye on Belarus, which in February marked one year since the lifting of most EU sanctions. Relations have improved but there has been no economic payoff.
If Lukashenko gets away with his shakedown of Russia, it will be a useful indicator to just how confident the Russians really are behind their facade of cynical bombast.
"We can do without Russian oil," defiant Belarusian president says in response to "humiliation" by Moscow.
Tensions between Minsk and Moscow have steadily risen over energy and border control disputes, and the rejection of Russia's request to build a military airbase in Belarus.
Lukashenko has long played the mid-ground between traditional ties with Moscow and likely windfalls from better relations with the EU. But economic hardship and sovereignty jitters will soon require tough choices.
Register for free to read bne IntelliNews Magazine. You'll receive a free digital subscription.
Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.
If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.
Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address.
A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.
IntelliNews Pro offers daily news updates delivered to your inbox and in-depth data reports.
Get the emerging markets newswire that financial professionals trust.
"No day starts for my team without IntelliNews Pro" — UBS
Thank-you for requesting an IntelliNews Pro trial. Our team will be in contact with you shortly.