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The Path to Politics: Belarus Prepares for Double Elections

Image courtesy of Cencillería del Ecuador/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This article was originally published by the Carnegie Moscow Center on 20 August 2019.

Elections in Belarus are traditionally administrative rituals. However, amid growing tensions with Russia and increased discussion of a future presidential transition in Minsk, the upcoming Belarusian parliamentary and presidential votes may be the start of cautious political change in the country.

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From Belarus with Love: The Limits of Lukashenko’s Dalliance with the West

Image courtesy of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 3 April 2019.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its intervention in Eastern Ukraine demonstrated not only its unpredictability but also its willingness to violate agreements and use force to alter borders and destabilize countries in its neighborhood. These events not only shocked the West; they also shook Russia’s allies to the core, not least Belarus. Long branded as “Europe’s last dictatorship,” this Eastern European state is considered Russia’s staunchest ally. And indeed, no country is culturally closer or politically, militarily, and economically more integrated with Russia than Belarus.

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Crimea 2.0: Will Russia Seek Reunification with Belarus

Image courtesy of Adam Jones/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This article was originally published by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) on 19 November 2018.

While speculation about whether Russia may repeat the Crimean scenario in Belarus should not be totally dismissed, exaggerated alarmism would not be appropriate either. Rather, Moscow’s policy is aimed at making sure that Belarus and its leadership remain critically dependent on Russia.

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Belarusian Integration

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This graphic maps the different regional integration projects and organisations Belarus is a member of. For more on how Belarus’ relations with the East and the West will develop, see Benno Zogg’s recent addition to the CSS Analyses in Security Policy series here. For more CSS charts, maps and graphics on proliferation, click here.

One Year after the Sanctions: Is Europe Ready for the Belarus Crisis?

This article was originally published by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) on 9 February 2017.

The results of the ongoing normalization in relations between the EU and Belarus have been very modest, as have the domestic changes, which the turn in the European policy was intended to assist. Meanwhile, Moscow reacted to Alexander Lukashenko’s perceived “drift to the West” by toughening its approach towards Minsk. A new crisis in the east of Europe may be in the making.

On February 15, 2016, the EU decided not to prolong the sanctions it had imposed five years earlier on the regime of Alexander Lukashenko in response to brutal repressions against the Belarusian political opposition. The sanctions were lifted as a reward granted to Minsk in return for the release of remaining political prisoners, for the less oppressive presidential campaign of 2015 and – perhaps above all – for Belarus’s refusal to fully support Russia in the conflict over Ukraine. At the same time, the decision was driven by hopes and expectations that the normalization of relations between Europe and Belarus would stimulate the latter to start domestic liberalization and economic reforms.

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