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The political crisis in Belarus that erupted following the August 9 presidential election continues to evolve unpredictably, posing a daunting challenge for Russia in fashioning a response. President Alexander Lukashenko faces mass demonstrations by protesters alleging that the official election results, which showed the president winning a landslide re-election victory, were fraudulent. The outcome of the crisis remains uncertain. As Russia observes the volatile situation, weighing its options for shaping the future of the country, it can expect to receive support from China, which has rapidly expanded its own interests in Belarus.
In recent years, as their relations with the West have deteriorated, China and Russia have strengthened bilateral relations. The relationship falls short of a full political-military alliance, largely because both countries seek to avoid being drawn into the other’s regional conflicts. Nevertheless, both countries have been generally supportive of the other’s position in such disputes. This pattern is likely to hold in Belarus, where China’s interests are largely compatible with those of Russia.
About the Authors
Brian Carlson is an associated member of the Center for Eastern European Studies (CEES) at the University of Zurich.
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