Belarus

Responding to a Dictator’s Stunts: A No-Thrill Flight Without a Destination?

It is quite extraordinary to see a state being rebuffed by Hamas, berated by the Ryanair CEO, admired by a boss of a Russian state propaganda outlet and prompting an immediate response from the EU that goes beyond “deep concern”—all within 36 hours of a major civil aviation incident. Whatever the reaction, we must give it to them: the regime in Minsk played by the “book of rogues” as a deserving and almost exemplary disciple of its big brother in Moscow. Can it be stopped from attempting similar stunts in the future? Probably not, so we will have to be prepared.

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Hybrid Atoms: Rosatom in Europe and Nuclear Energy in Belarus

In late 2020, Belarus inaugurated the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant (Astravyets NPP). This facility – funded by the Russian government and built by the Russian state-owned corporation Rosatom – is one that Lithuania considers a threat to its national security. The project has already been causing frictions in the Baltic region that are yet to be resolved; the situation is emblematic of why and how Moscow is advancing its interests by exploiting the nuclear energy aspirations of various countries in Europe.

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Belarus After the Storm: A Time Bomb

With opposition leaders now either imprisoned or fled, president Aleksander Lukashenko of Belarus is facing some tough choices in both the domestic- and foreign-policy theatres. Having lost the support of many Belarusians, infuriating the West and demonstrating weakness to Russia, Lukashenko’s chances of pulling off a peaceful transition of power akin to the “Kazakh scenario” seem challenging.

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USSR 2.0 Is Failing

On 4 October, the people of Kyrgyzstan went to the polls in parliamentary elections. As a result, four parties came to power, three of them directly related to the country’s incumbent government and declaring pro-Russian policies.

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Putin’s Contracting Matrix

Determined to ensure that in retreat, he imposes the maximum pain on others, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin is making the most of the increasingly unforgiving constraints of his environment.

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Integration for the Sake of Salvation

The domestic power base of dictator Alexander Lukashenko is now mostly limited to Belarus’ security structures. Although he is still popular with aged babushkas and dedushkas, who see no reason for or even fear change, Lukashenko can no longer count on blue-collar support from the ‘working collectives’ of the large state-owned factories, or from the younger generations of Belarusians protesting with the white-red-white flags he detests.

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The EU Should Be Prepared to Defend the Independence of Belarus

With Belarus rapidly moving towards a post-Lukashenko era, the EU has no credible option but to support Belarusians’ bottom-up demands for democracy. This has geopolitical implications that the EU needs to be prepared to address. Russia is determined to maintain control over Belarus and likely to perceive the EU’s engagement as undesirable if not threatening.

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