It is not often we hear about Belarus, which may have something to do with the fact that their main export is fertilizer. On Aug 9th Belarus’ presidential election polls will close and this is the first time in 26 years where the current autocratic President Lukashenko is not indisputably leading the voting. But it will not be a surprise if come Sunday he has rigged the elections in his favor and the thought of this has led a wave democratic protest across Belarus against Lukashenko’s government.
The situation has created a big headache for Putin and the western powers. Belarus signed a treaty in 2000 effectively keeping Belarus within the Russian state. Although Belarus is not an European Union member it maintains strong relations. Thus, any intervention from Putin would result in Belarus calling on the EU for protection against Russian forces. Except, EU states helping a dictator who does not uphold the EU’s human rights laws to stay in power contradicts everything the group stands for especially as this was the prime reason for the EU refusing Belarus membership to the union.
In fact, the EU should intervene to support the people protesting for rights against Lukashenko’s illegal rule. However, this is likely to force Lukashenko to turn to Putin for help which would be a huge blow for the EU because its geographical location would give Russia a further buffer from the west. Something which Putin will without a doubt try to ensure at all costs to maintain the strength of the Russian Rouble against the Euro.
The complexity of the situation means both Russia and Western powers such as France and Germany are waiting for the other side to move first before taking any action. Surely, no one wants a repeat of Crimea in 2014.