In the current situation, the main objective for the Kremlin is to maintain a controlled, pro-Russian transition of power in neighboring Belarus. If that means sacrificing closer integration, so be it.
The gas crisis could be a moment of truth for Moldova, which has an opportunity to take energy security more seriously, root out sectoral corruption, implement energy efficiency projects, build capacity to operate on the European gas market, and enhance cooperation with Ukraine. Achieving all this would not exclude Russia, but it would make energy a market issue, rather than a geopolitical one.
Laschet’s personal preferences, if they even exist, will have to contend with a number of other factors shaping German foreign policy. German politicians, including those from the CDU, generally agree that establishing closer ties with Russia is unlikely in the foreseeable future.
The pandemic world has splintered into something akin to self-sufficient national bubbles, and the crisis has shown once again that the European bubble does not include Russia.
Keen to avoid an armed conflict on its own territory, Minsk still has a strong interest in preventing any further escalation of the tense standoff between Russia and NATO in the Baltic region.
The Belarusian revolution is far from over, and there are at least three scenarios in which the EU and Russia won’t be able to keep their differences over Belarus from escalating from the current moderate competition into an open geopolitical crisis like that seen in Ukraine.