Belarus: Putin’s Close European Ally

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Belarus' brutally repressive dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, has teamed up with Putin—with serious consequences for Europe’s security.

  • The Eastern European country of Belarus, which borders Russia and Ukraine, has been run by strongman Alexander Lukashenko—referred to as “Europe’s last dictator”—for more than a quarter century.
  • Lukashenko, long an ally of Russian President Vladmir Putin, has become increasingly isolated from the West since 2020, when Belarusians took to the streets to partake in pro-Democracy protests.
  • Lukashenko’s security forces responded with brutal repression, jailing activists and opposition politicians. The US and Europe reacted with sanctions targeting the Belarusian regime.
  • Lukashenko’s isolation from the West forced him further into the arms of Putin. The Kremlin provided Lukashenko with political and financial support. But it came with a price.
  • In return for Russian aid, Lukashenko is now playing a support role in the Kremlin’s campaign to destabilize Europe. That began last year, when Lukashenko weaponized migration against the EU.
  • It was a move analysts characterized as a “hybrid war.” Lukashenko intentionally sent migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Afghanistan over the border into Poland.
  • Now, Lukashenko is helping Putin threaten an invasion of Ukraine by allowing Russian troops to enter the country for what both leaders claim are joint military exercises.
  • But Russian troops in Belarus are now positioned within striking distance of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv—effectively making Belarus a staging ground for a potential Russian invasion.
  • It’s likely not the last time Lukashenko will help Putin undermine Europe. Today, our reading explores the dictator’s assisting role, and highlights some brave Belarusian efforts to oppose him.
Articles from 4 publishers

4 articles on this topic

Radio Free Europe

U.S. Warns Belarus Against Helping Potential Russian Invasion Of Ukraine

1 min read
Al Jazeera

Europe’s ‘last dictator’: Who is Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko?

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4 min read
European Council on Foreign Relations

Bonfire of sovereignty: Russian tanks in Belarus

4 min read
The Globe and Mail

Under constant threat of arrest, Belarusian journalist Larysa Shchyrakova aims to expose an authoritarian regime

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10 min read