It remains unclear what will come of the protests in Belarus. In my opinion, the EU will initially only impose personal and symbolic sanctions in order not to drive Lukachenkov too much into the arms of Russia and to prevent the collapse of the economy. At the same time, it also has a conflict with Erdogan over Greece, which could escalate to a military conflict between the NATO states Turkey and Greece, a NATO crisis and new refugee flows in the worst case. While Pompeo is still showing a hard edge and wants to coordinate with the EU on his European tour, there is still no reaction from Trump. It is interesting that the Belarusian opposition warns the EU not to impose sanctions too early and design them in such a way that they do not hit the population. Lukashenkow has now phoned Putin, who wants to support him – also militarily. At the same time NATO maneuvers in the Baltic States.
The demonstrations continue, the interesting thing is that the workers are now threatening to go on strike. Could this worker movement become a Belarusian Solidarnosc? What would a general strike bring? Or can Lukashenkow, who now wants to visit factories and talk to the workers, convince them that a strike or even a general strike could lead to the collapse of the Covid-damaged economy and would therefore not be in their own and the national interests?
Lukashenkow won´t agree to hold new elections.. It is questionable what perspective the opposition has with their demonstrations. Is it hoping for the military to change sides? Is that realistic? Would a Belarusian Jaruzelski be conceivable? Perhaps in a row with a round table or is the situation in Belarus different than it was in Poland ? Or would Lukaschekow himself anticipate such a development and impose martial law? And what is Putin’s reaction? Does Lukashenkov allow him to deploy Russian troops or Green men in Belarus or does he not trust Putin as this would that be too dangerous for himself? In the case of Belarus, does a kind of new Brezhnev doctrine apply to Russia, perhaps when calls for help from Slavic Union brothers in an emergency reach Moscov? Or would Putin rather use hybrid warfare and subtle means, fearing that Russia could sink into a swamp if he intervened? Lukashenkov has continued to signal his willingness to talk to the EU despite Putin’s call. Can he continue to play strategic balancing between the EU and Russia as he has done in recent decades or does it no longer work as it did in earlier times? Many unanswered questions.
As a former NATO general comments:
“Yes, I had underestimated that the masses are rising. Let’s see if they hold out. As with Lech Walesa, it neede some time to succeed. .
The big difference, however, is obvious: both Ukraine and Belarus are former Soviet republics – and Mr Putin will leave no stone unturned in influencing / retaining these buffers. And then – also as a reaction to the US – Russian forces could be deployed in Belarus. It’s a bit of a white swan – others interpret it as a black swan. Unfortunately. And then comes what has to come. Unintended effect.
Let us hope that the West does not drive Belarus into Russia’s hands. Maidan wasn’t good either. At least until now I haven’t seen a West politician at the demos in Minsk. “
A former German diplomat describes the future much more pessimistic as an Ukrainian scenario:
“In the eyes of a large part of the younger generation who live in the capital, Lukashenko is finished, and by the way, in my eyes too. But the situation in Belarus is very differentiated and polarized. A civil war is possible, including a division of the country into a pro-European part in the west and a pro-Russian part in the east. The religious, ethnic, cultural and linguistic differentiation of the population suggests such a scenario. “
At the same time, the protests against Putin in Khabarovsk continue. So far Putin has been able to prevent a spillover to the West of the Urals, but he no longer seems to have everything under control and could also fear the Belarus virus spreading to Russia.