Belarus, the Borderlands and the U.S.-Russia Standoff

Jun 7, 2018 | 09:15 GMT


President Aleksandr Lukashenko has repositioned Belarus from being a stalwart Russian ally isolated from the West to being a mediator between Russia and the West in their standoff over Ukraine.



  • Like other states in the European borderlands, Belarus will continue to seek to take advantage of the Russia-West standoff to meet its strategic interests.
  • Moves by Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine to elicit greater security assistance from NATO and the United States are compromising Belarus’ efforts to serve as a mediator between Moscow and the West.
  • Belarus and the other borderland countries will be unable to escape their geopolitical vulnerabilities, because their fates are shaped by the larger powers surrounding them.

After seven years, the Praspyekt Nyezalyezhnastsi -- the main boulevard in the Belarusian capital of Minsk -- seemed little changed. The immense Soviet-era administration buildings still towered ominously over the sidewalks, making the trees and the pedestrians feel tiny. A large bust of Lenin remained in front of the presidential library, an austere, cubist building still adorned with Soviet insignia. Yet these impressions from a chilly evening in May were rather misleading. Belarus had changed. The 2014 uprising in Ukraine had shaken Minsk into seeking a new role in the standoff between Russia and the West. In addition, Belarus and the other countries in these Eastern European borderlands have been trying to turn the stalemate to their advantage....

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