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With the East and West, Belarus Plays Both Sides

Feb 17, 2016 | 09:00 GMT
Belarusian troops march in a parade in central Minsk. Despite being one of Russia's closest allies, Belarus is increasingly warming up to the West.
(SERGEI GAPON/AFP/Getty Images)

Belarus, long one of Russia's closest allies, is becoming increasingly friendly with the West. On Feb. 15, EU foreign ministers voted to permanently remove sanctions against several Belarusian officials and companies. The move marks the substantial progress Minsk has made in its complicated and often combative relationship with the European bloc, and comes after a year of considerable growth in Belarus' diplomatic and economic ties with the Continent and the United States. But though Belarus will likely continue to strengthen its relationship with the West, its strategic orientation toward Russia will not change. Instead, Minsk will try to leverage its connections to each party to gain concessions from both sides....

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