Despite maintaining the facade of Belarus as an independent state, the quiet takeover of Belarus by Russia has happened. The illegitimate usurper of power, Lukashenka, and the Russian president Putin signed the integration road maps and the military agreement in November 2021. The Russian troops are stationed in Belarus and use Belarusian territory and infrastructure for the missile strikes and on-the-ground invasion of Ukraine. The newly amended constitution includes the provision of a close political, economic, and military union with Russia. As the new constitution takes effect on March 15, Belarus is no longer neutral and may host nuclear weapons.
As Russia leverages help from Belarus to invade Ukraine from three sides, the Ukrainian army, outgunned and outnumbered, keeps up fierce resistance. The West steps up its efforts to contain Russia’s aggression and help Ukraine fight back. Belarus’s regime faces additional punitive measures for its role in the invasion.
Russia deployed tens of thousands of troops in Belarus. Russian troops will remain in Belarus on a permanent or rotational basis under the pretext of completing the drills. Controversial constitutional amendments will remove the country’s neutrality status and allow the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus. There will be no polling stations outside of Belarus. The IMF’s $1 bln. did nothing to prevent accelerating the COVID crisis in Belarus. As political prisoners go on hunger strikes and Belarusians flee from persecution and economic collapse, the need for Temporary Protected Status for Belarusian refugees in the U.S. becomes more acute.
The ongoing crisis over Ukraine has been exacerbated by recent Lukashenka’s claims that he’s willing to go to war with Ukraine if either Belarus or Russia is attacked. Russia has been increasing its military presence in Belarus, including in areas close to Ukraine, in preparation for the upcoming joint military drills.
The Russian Federation is widening its military presence in Belarus: the two countries have already announced their joint military exercises in February. Belarusian journalists and human rights activists continue their work against Lukashenka’s regime despite the threats and possibilities of the arrest. The Baltic states saw their economic trade with Belarus increase in 2021, despite the harsh rhetoric towards Lukashenka’s regime.
Thirty years after the fall of the Soviet Union, Lukashenka’s Belarus economically and politically has moved closer to Russia, partially fulfilling Putin’s dream of restoration of the Russian empire. After the massive pro-democracy protests in Belarus, the Lukashenka regime openly embraced violence and repressions, the ideology of confrontation with the West, and democratic principles. Lukashenka’s Belarus silenced and eliminated political opponents, orchestrated migrant crisis on the Belarus-EU border, and pledged full support to Putin’s aggressive plans toward Ukraine.
Lukashenka’s escalation of the refugee crisis at the EU border indicates his apparent confidence in Putin’s support and Russian contributions to sustain the Belarusian economy. Claiming that he has nothing to do with the hybrid warfare at the Eastern EU border, Putin revealed his intentions and provided support to his ally, Lukashenka. Both Lukashenka and Putin are using the situation to increase the number of troops and military equipment in Belarus and in the Western direction. While the world is focused on the border crisis, Lukashenka continues usurping the power through repressions, eradicating all independent media and civil society, postponing the local elections, and preparing the referendum on the constitutional change.
Border Crisis continues to destabilize Europe. Belarus closes last U.S. diplomacy offices. New prospects of integration with Russia. Journalist charged with “Treason” for investigating riot police. German broadcaster DW blocked in Belarus. Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich speaks about human rights in Belarus. Western envoys in Minsk commemorate victims of soviet terror.
Belarus scraps short-lived mask mandates amid virus surge. Belgium is pushing to dilute the E.U.’s Belarus potash sanctions. Germany sees key to Belarus migrant problem in Moscow. EU Ministers discuss new measures against Belarus over migrants. Poland doubles troops on border with Belarus. PEN: Violations of human rights against cultural workers 2021. Belarus and Russia prepare joint military doctrine. Belarus’ opposition leader send message to India. Belarusian man revealed videos of torture in Russian prisons.
French ambassador ordered out of Belarus. Seven years in prison for following a Telegram channel. The E.U. accuses Belarus of luring global migrants into other European countries. Belarusians live in an increasingly divided country. Ministry of Justice suspends Tsikhanouski’s key lawyer Natallia Matskevich. Belarus to close New York consulate “at U.S. request.” iSANS analyst Alexander Morozov goes through factors that will play out in the politics of Russia and Belarus in the next few years. Estonia: Events in Belarus threaten the stability of our region. Belarus regime “has used football as propaganda.”