JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin bets on Lukashenko keeping power in Belarus for now: sources” – Reuters

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“… Putin believes … Lukashenko will probably cling to power for now despite protests … and is content to let him sweat it out, two sources close to the Kremlin said. … [T]he two countries usually have no border controls, … culturally, linguistically and economically intertwined. Putin has pushed hard to make [their] union state [concept] more of a political and economic reality. … Russian energy exports flow via Belarus to the West, Moscow supplies cheap oil and gas to Belarus … Russian troops have taken part in huge [past] war games on Belarusian soil …. Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.govThe Russian air force has a radar station in Belarus … to track ballistic missile launches. … [A] [Russian] naval communications facility [there] … communicate[s] with … nuclear submarines. … Moscow … regard[s] Belarus as a buffer zone against NATO, according to Western diplomats, who say they believe any move for Belarus to join the [EU] or NATO would be a red line for Russia and could prompt it to send in troops. …”

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