JRL NEWSWATCH: “Alexander Lukashenko changes tack in Belarus stand-off” – Financial Times/ James Shotter, Max Seddon

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Meeting imprisoned opposition leaders is departure from previous hardline approach” “After … weeks in the Belarusian KGB prison, tech executive Dmitry Rabtsevich and a dozen opposition activists … [were visited by] embattled strongman … Lukashenko … [in] an unannounced roundtable with his jailed opponents. The jail then quickly released … Rabtsevich …. The bizarre four-and-a-half-hour jail meeting … was … […]

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Belarus Crisis Highlights Europe’s Energy Problem

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

(Oilprice.com – Vanand Meliksetian – Sept. 24, 2020) The ongoing demonstrations in Belarus and the looming instability are a threat to both Russia and the EU. Moscow prefers the continuation of Lukashenko’s regime due to political reasons. Europe, on the other hand, faces an energy crisis if the situation escalates which could lead to a disruption of supplies. Belarus’ geographic […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “A dozen countries refuse to recognise Lukashenko’s inauguration; Spontaneous protests broke out in the evening following Alexander Lukashenko’s secret inauguration for a sixth term” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

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

“A dozen countries refused to recognise … Lukashenko as … legitimate president of Belarus after he secretly inaugurated himself … September 23. Tensions were high in Minsk after the news broke, with protesters in Minsk flooding the streets and clashing with police trying to disperse them. The only leader that sent a message to congratulate Lukashenko was Turkmen President Gurbanguly […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Lukashenko inaugurates himself in secret” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

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

“Fearing mass protests, Belarus’ self-appointed President Alexander Lukashenko held an inauguration for himself in secret to complete the legal process of winning the disputed August 9 presidential election. … [T]he entire perimeter surrounding the presidential palace … was closed to traffic. Some companies told their employees not to come in, as … roads were closed. Police trucks and army vehicles […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘Harsh Times Ahead’: Russia’s Emergency Loan to Belarus Changes Little for Embattled Lukashenko” – Moscow Times

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

The $1.5 billion will largely go towards refinancing debt owed to Russia, and is only a fraction of what Belarus needs to avoid a crash in living standards. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – Sept. 17, 2020) Russia’s emergency $1.5 billion loan will do little to help Belarus’ embattled President Alexander Lukashenko prevent his economy from spiraling into […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia says Belarus leader plans to change constitution; President Lukashenko began raising the question of changing Belarus’s constitution several years ago.” – Al Jazeera

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

“Russia said … Lukashenko … confirmed … plans to change the constitution as the two leaders held talks in Sochi …. Lukashenko faces mass protests at home …. Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years … previously changed the constitution to increase his presidential powers. The opposition wants to change the constitution back to its original form … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “After Weeks of Pressure in Belarus, Protesters and Lukashenko Locked in Dangerous Stalemate” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“More than 100,000 people protest; country’s longtime leader set to meet Putin on Monday.” “More than 100,000 … poured into the streets of … Minsk [Sunday], sparking a show of force and mass detentions by riot police[,] … one of the largest in a string of demonstrations aimed at keeping pressure on … Lukashenko[] [i]n the month since [an election] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Backs Lukashenko as Belarus Leader Vows Closer Ties” – AFP

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

“… Putin on Monday backed embattled … Lukashenko[,] …. [who] thanked Putin for his support and vowed to stick closer to ‘elder brother’ Moscow during … talks at … [Putin’s Sochi] residence …. [Lukashenko’s] first foreign trip since his disputed [election] win … prompted mass protests against [Lukashenko’s] rule …. Putin appeared to endorse Lukashenko’s political future, praising … plans […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarusian leader set to visit Russia as protests continue” – AP

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“… Protesters in Belarus have spent a month denouncing the results of the country’s Aug. 9 presidential election as rigged and demanding the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko from the sixth term he won. Facing criticism from the West, Lukashenko has worked to cement ties with his main ally and sponsor, Russia. … set to head to Russia … Monday […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Travel Ban, Oil Supplies on Russia-Belarus Agenda” – Moscow Times

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sept. 4, 2020) Russia and Belarus are preparing to reopen borders that were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and are discussing rerouting Belarusian oil exports through Russia, news outlets reported after high-level talks Thursday. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and his delegation met Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his government in Minsk amid continuing […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus Leader Proposes Vote on Constitution Reforms” – AFP

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

“… Lukashenko on Monday discussed plans for a referendum on constitutional reforms …. The 66-year-old … fac[es] his greatest challenge yet [in his 26-year rule,] following three weekends of giant protests in Minsk over a disputed August 9 [election] where he claimed victory over … popular opposition candidate[] Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Lukashenko has twice before held such referendums, pushing through changes […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus protests stoke sea change at state media outlets” – Financial Times/ Max Seddon, James Shotter

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Hundreds of journalists have gone on strike demanding fair coverage of demonstrations.” “… [In] a sea change at … [Belarus’s] normally pliant state media[,] [h]undreds of journalists have gone on strike demanding fair coverage of the [anti-Lukashenko] protests and … brutal police crackdown …. Several have resigned …. [S]tate media … remains a crucial tool in … Lukashenko’s attempt to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus’ Soviet-era economy still propped up by Moscow” – Deutsche Welle/ Nik Martin

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Belarus has one of the lowest poverty rates in Europe, but economic growth is anemic due to archaic state-run industries and the ending of Russian energy subsidies. Its biggest political crisis is even more of a threat.” “… Belarus’ dependence on energy-rich Russia is ever more evident …. Moscow has already offered to help bolster security [amidst the current crisis] […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Lukashenko declares readiness for dialogue with ‘reasonable’ opposition members” – Interfax

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

MINSK. Aug 27 (Interfax) – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has announced that he is ready to establish a dialogue with labor collectives, students, and “reasonable” members of the opposition, but said that won’t happen under the pressure of street protests. “Let us sit down, representatives of all labor collectives, student collectives (these are the future elites of our country, and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Thousands gather on Belarus’ Independence Square in the rain to maintain protest momentum” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Thousands of Belarusians … gather[ed] once again on [I]ndependence [S]quare in central Minsk … [T]he police … [have again] started to randomly arrest protestors …. The protests have become as large as those in 1991 during the collapse of the Soviet Union. … [After] fears that the protest movement was losing … momentum as Lukashenko launched an increasingly effective counter […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “In a Shift, Belarus Leader Seeks to Stem Protests Gradually” – AP

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

“When Belarusians filled the streets to protest what they called a fraudulent election that kept authoritarian … Lukashenko in power … blunt repressions came first. … emboldening more protesters, triggering strikes at state-run factories and forcing authorities to back off. With the protests now in their third week – including rallies that brought out an estimated 200,000 people in Minsk […]

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As Lukashenka Turns To Geopolitics, The West Faces Learning Curve In Belarus

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

… The embattled strongman has been back-footed by the massive, unprecedented demonstrations demanding he resign in the wake of the August 9 presidential election the protesters view as fixed […]

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Belarusians Expected a Maidan but Instead have a Revolution, Kagarlitsky Says

Belarus city file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 19, 2020) Belarusians expected a Maidan like in Ukraine with a dispute about falsification of election results leading to the ouster of a dictator; but what has occurred, as a result of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s earlier successes and recent failures, is the beginning of a revolution with many more far-reaching consequences, Boris […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Biegun Says U.S. Sees No Indication of Russian Military Plans in Belarus” – Reuters

Cropped File Photo of Stephen Biegun, adapted from image featured at state.gov

“Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun [was in Lithuania,] signal[ing] a greater U.S. role … trying to settle … strife … erupt[ing] when Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko cracked down on peaceful protesters … reject[ing] his claim of a landslide election victory [claiming it was rigged]. … Asked about possible Russian military intervention … [Biegun] said: ‘Of course that would be […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus’ defence minister tells military elite: ‘It is necessary to fight. And if necessary with weapons’ as Lukashenko’s counteroffensive gathers momentum” – bne Intellinews

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Belarus’ Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin told the country’s military elite that there may be a military conflict and they may be called on to use their weapons …. ‘Yes, we may have a civil war …. There’s a chance we’ll have a military conflict … Criminal order, not criminal – we are soldiers, we execute orders!’ Khrenin said …. Lukashenko […]

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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 […]

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Only Six Percent of Russians Think Lukashenka About to Lose Power, VTsIOM Poll Finds

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Euarasia – Staunton, Aug. 16, 2020) While one Russian in four thinks Alyaksandr Lukashenka falsified the results of the presidential vote there and only one in five thinks that the official reports are entirely trustworthy, only one Russian in 16 – six percent – thinks the demonstrations in Belarus are about to drive Lukashenka from […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Merkel and Putin discuss political crisis in Belarus” – Financial Times/ Guy Chazan, Henry Foy, James Shotter, Max Seddon

Brandeburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, file photo adapted from image at state.gov

“German leader’s talks with counterpart acknowledge Russia’s crucial role in deciding fate of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.” “… Merkel called … Putin … Tuesday to discuss Belarus[,] … tacit acknowledgment of his pivotal role …. Moscow has propped up … Lukashenko financially and militarily throughout [Lukashenko’s] 26 years in power … the Kremlin has remained on the sidelines since his […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus Opposition Seeks to Reassure Russia as Strikes Go On” – Bloomberg/ Aliaksandr Kudrytski

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Opposition leaders in Belarus are seeking to reassure Russia about future relations as the biggest challenge to … Lukashenko’s 26-year rule continues with nationwide strikes. Russia is an important partner for Belarus and ‘we recognize and accept that,’ Maria Kalesnikava … top ally of opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya[] wrote in a message published … on Telegram by … [Ekho Moskvy] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Tikhanovskaya to hold first transition council meeting, EU opens talks with opposition” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Belarus city file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

“The focus of the opposition is shifting from street protests to a legal assault on Lukashenko’s administration and the creation of a transition government.” “… nominal president-elect of Belarus Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s Transfer of Power Coordination Council … [seeks a] process of bringing in a new government ahead of fresh elections. ‘We’re starting to form the Coordination Council. … an extended […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Lukashenko Says He Is Ready to Share Power in Belarus as Protests Mount” – Reuters

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

“[Belarus’ leader] … Lukashenko … [says] he would be ready to hold new elections and hand over power after a constitutional referendum, an attempt to pacify mass protests and strikes … pos[ing] the biggest challenge … to his rule. … He faces the threat of [EU] sanctions after a bloody crackdown on protests following what demonstrators say was his rigged […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why Vladimir Putin is unlikely to invade Belarus” – Atlantic Council/ Anders Åslund

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“… Lukashenka seems to be on his way out. … he could only gather a few thousand press-ganged ‘supporters’ for a regime rally … [C]olossal crowds gathered [in Minsk] … hours later to demand his departure. Lukashenka’s blatant theft of the … presidential election has united the Belarusian people against him. Presumably, the only support he can now count on […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin Doesn’t Want to Intervene in Belarus. That’s an Opportunity for the West.” – Moscow Times/ Anna Arutunyan

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo

“It’s certainly not too soon for Moscow and Brussels to learn from past mistakes.” “… Now, the time has come, largely through Lukashenko’s own undoing, but also, in part, thanks to a perfect storm of the pandemic, a stagnating economy, and Moscow’s growing weariness with subsidizing Belarus and playing cat and mouse with an ally turned frenemy. Lukashenko may well […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Will Russia invade Belarus?” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Russia has a lot more to lose than to gain from an annexation of Belarus. But it will be hard to lose anything in a post-Lukashenko Belarus” “… Lukashenko … [said] he would ask … Putin to help Belarus ‘restore order[,]’ … [that] protests ‘threaten the whole former Soviet space’ …. [Social media] [v]ideo … show[s] Russian army trucks … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “With Belarus in Turmoil, Russia Sees Chance to Expand Its Influence” – Wall Street Journal/ Ann M. Simmons

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Moscow offers to strengthen Russian integration with Minsk in attempt to shore up Lukashenko after unprecedented protests.” “[Independent online pollsters … reported exit polls giving opposition presidential candidate Svetlana  Tikhanovskaya up to 86% of the recent vote in Belarus.] … Russia moved swiftly to congratulate … Lukashenko for his [officially reported] electoral win and press for stronger ties …. Russia […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian MP Konstantin Zatulin and head of the Duma’s foreign relations committee calls Belarus’ election results a hoax” – bne Intellinews

Russian State Duma Building file photo

“… Putin was amongst the first of a handful of foreign leaders to call and congratulate … Lukashenko on his ‘victory’ in last weekend’s presidential election [in Belarus], but MPs in the Russian Duma said the results were faked and the official numbers are a hoax,] [t]he … elections … held in an ‘atmosphere of total falsification, so [that] their […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The contest after the vote; Eight major takeaways from the immediate aftermath of the Belarusian presidential election” – Meduza

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“… Belarusian election officials published … preliminary results … [indicating that] Lukashenko … won more than 80 percent …. radically contradict[ing] [opposition] reports … say[ing] [Svetlana] Tikhanovskaya won 70 percent. … Tikhanovskaya’s campaign refuses to recognize the election’s results … [S]he called on ‘those who believe their vote was stolen’ ‘not to remain silent.’ … [R]eporting suggests … tens of […]

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In a Confrontation Between Putin and the West, Belarus May Get Caught in the Middle

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Igor Zevelev – Aug. 5, 2020) Former Professor at George Marshall European Center for Security Studies; Former Director, MacArthur Foundation, Moscow Office Starting with the coup against Gorbachev in August 1991, the last month of the summer has become a time when the eyes of the world perforce turn to Russia. Financial crises (1998), the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Lukashenko rhetoric shows fallout between Minsk and Moscow”- Financial Times/ Max Seddon, James Shotter

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Arrest of 33 Russians comes as Belarusian president’s strategy of playing Russia and the west off each other founders.” “… Belarus authorities arrested the [Russian] men [checking into a sanatorium outside Minsk as would-be tourists] and another Russian, claiming they were mercenaries plotting to ‘destabilise the situation’ ahead of Sunday’s [historically contentious] elections [in Belarus] …. [The arrests and surrounding […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Lukashenko cancels state of the nation speech as health fails” – bne Intellinews

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo

“… Lukashenko cancelled his annual state of the nation speech … admitt[ing] … having the [COVID-19] coronavirus. … ‘Today you are meeting a man who managed to survive the coronavirus on his feet. … Asymptomatic. … No-one will die from coronavirus in our country[,] … my firm conviction judging by analysis not only of previous years. … Almost 97% of […]

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Kremlin Sees Role For U.S. In Helping Resolve Conflict With Ukraine

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Oct. 8, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/kremlin-sees-role-for-u-s-in-helping-resolve-conflict-with-ukraine/30205596.html) The Kremlin says the United States could play a role in helping resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict given Washington’s influence in Kyiv. “The U.S. can undeniably use the influence it has over Kyiv to make Ukraine fulfill its Minsk […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin Rejects Idea of U.S. Role in Ukraine Conflict Talks” – Reuters

Dmitry Peskov file photo adapted from image at kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

“Russia … rejected the idea of involving the United States in talks to help resolve the conflict between the Kiev government and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s east. Kremlin spokesman … Peskov said there was no support for the idea of Washington joining the Normandy Format talks … involv[ing] Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France. … Peskov did say … that the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Moscow Has Limited Options in Belarus” – Chatham House/ John Lough

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

Leaked details of the latest negotiations between Moscow and Minsk on fleshing out their 20-year old Union State project suggest that Russia wants to place Belarus in a closer embrace without incorporating it into the Russian Federation “… [There has been speculation in Moscow that] the Union State … [would provide] a platform for … Putin to stay in office […]

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Flexible Stagnation: How Lukashenka Has Held On To Power For 25 Years In Belarus

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – July 20, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/amp/flexible-stagnation-how-lukashenka-has-held-on-to-power-for-25-years-in-belarus/30066472.html) In 1994, the last Russian troops left Germany and the Baltic states, bringing a symbolic end to the Cold War. The same year saw the Rwandan genocide, and American entrepreneur Jeff Bezos launched an online […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Will Russia try to occupy Belarus? Here are the 4 things you need to know about the two nations’ falling out.” – Washington Post/ Ryhor Astapenia

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Will Russia try to occupy Belarus? …. Over the past four months, the Kremlin has been proposing closer ties within the Union State of Russia and Belarus …. That treaty was signed in 1997 … [with] few tangible results. … Russian elites are rumoring that … a fully functioning union might enable … Putin to stay in power after … […]

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Not an Enemy: Belarus Seeks Warmer Relations With NATO [Excerpt]

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Arseny Sivitsky – Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 16, Issue: 40 – March 21, 2019) [Full text: jamestown.org/program/not-an-enemy-belarus-seeks-warmer-relations-with-nato/] Belarus wants to expand constructive dialogue with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on the basis of trust, equality, transparency and mutual respect. Further development of cooperation with the Alliance is limited by institutional and ideological constraints, which […]

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Lukashenka Says Belarus Must Balance Policies Between East, West

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – March 5, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/lukashenka-says-belarus-must-balance-policies-between-east-west/29804500.html) Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenka has said that his country “must overcome the cold” of a “standoff” between Russia and the European Union by “equally ” balancing its foreign policy between East and West. Speaking in Minsk on March […]

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Under Moscow Pressure, Could Belarus’s Balancing Act Come Crashing Down?

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo

(Article ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – Jan. 20, 2019 – article also appeared at https://www.rferl.org/a/analysis-under-moscow-pressure-could-belarus-s-balancing-act-come-crashing-down-/29720188.html) Speculation that the merger of Russia and Belarus is just over the horizon has become so strident in recent weeks that top officials in both countries have made efforts to refute it. “I call these suggestions very […]

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Lukashenka as Machiavelli

Belarus Map

(opendemocracy.net/PONARS – Arkady Moshes – January 9, 2014) Arkady Moshes is Director of The EU Eastern Neighbourhood and Russia Programme at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs For those who assume that the Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenka long ago lost his freedom of action vis-a-vis Moscow, his recent bout of assertive behaviour was unexpected. It delivered the desired result, though. […]

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