From Sanctions to Summits: Belarus after the Ukraine Crisis
Y. Kryvoi & A. Willson, From Sanctions to Summits: Belarus after the Ukraine Crisis, European Council on Foreign Relations (2015)
12 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2020
Date Written: 2015
Belarus is concerned by Russian actions in Ukraine and is trying to distance itself from Russia, including by not recognising the annexation of Crimea and calling for a peacekeeping mission. It is also suffering the effects of Russia’s economic downturn.
President Lukashenka has taken steps to promote the Belarusian language and identity to counter Russian influence. But he is not moving towards greater engagement with the political opposition.
The Ukraine crisis has reinforced the risk-averse instincts of the Belarusian people and reduced the likelihood of protests tied to elections scheduled for this year.
Minsk is not likely to shift from its broadly pro-Russian orientation, but it has made tentative diplomatic overtures to the EU. The EU’s pro-democracy sanctions policy toward Belarus has failed to promote political reform and arguably pushed Belarus closer to Russia. Now the EU has to focus not just on fostering democracy but on strengthening Belarusian society, which will help European interests in the long term.
The EU should aim to help Belarus with a modernised form of nation-building, engaging with civil society, offering assistance on economic reform, lowering the visa barrier, promoting knowledge of the EU and countering Russian propaganda.
Keywords: Belarus-Russia relations, eastern partnership, Russia, Ukraine, democritization
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