Russia

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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Relations between the West and Russia Need Emergency Care

On 7 September, German doctors treating Alexei Navalny in the Charité hospital in Berlin announced that he had been brought out of an induced coma and taken off mechanical ventilation, emergency treatments he had received in response to his poisoning. Navalny’s condition has improved. He responds to verbal stimuli, but it is too early to assess whether there will be any long-term effects on his health.

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Military Tension Increases in the Baltic Sea Region

On 24 August, the Swedish Armed Forces issued a press release stating that they were stepping up military readiness because of Russian and Western military activity in the Baltic Sea region of an intensity not seen since the Cold War. The press release raised the interest of the media and was reported by various outlets, including the Financial Times and the Washington Post.

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Why Was Alexei Navalnyi Poisoned Now? And Why Was He Handed Over to Germany?

On 20 August, prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalnyi collapsed on board a commercial flight, causing it to make an emergency landing in Omsk. Navalnyi’s condition had changed suddenly and violently during the flight and the aircraft captain’s swift decision probably saved his life. His family, friends and supporters immediately—and with good reason—suspected that he had been poisoned.

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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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