The latest gamble of president Lukashenko

By Nina Bachkatov

The vagaries of present international relations were highlighted on 24 May, when the agenda of the EU summit was highjacked by the forced landing of a Ryanair flight bound from Athens to Vilnius, at Minsk airport, to arrest an anti-Lukashenko’s blogger. EU leaders were expected to discuss EU relations with “aggressive” Russia and “post-Brexit” United Kingdom during the opening dinner; then, the following day, to move to key issues affecting European lives, such as climate changes and fighting the Covid epidemy. The manoeuvre of President Lukashenko cannot have been left without response, but it provided EU with the unexpected opportunity to demonstrate its decisiveness and unity, at very short notice. Continue reading “The latest gamble of president Lukashenko”

Belarus going nuclear, against all odds

By Nina Bachkatov

Technically speaking, the preliminary report of the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) about the Ostrovets Belarusian Nuclear Power Station reflects E.U. worries about its security. But political considerations are part of the equation, bearing in mind Belarus’ internal situation, the tortuous relations between the European Union and its Eastern Partnership’s allies, the unfinished creation of a single Baltic grid. And, the relations of the different actors with Russia. Continue reading “Belarus going nuclear, against all odds”

Navalny and Putin, the double challenge

By Nina Bachkatov

The latest episode concerning Alexei Navalny’s return to Moscow came on 18 January, when his lawyer tweeted that the City Court of Khimki decided to detain him for a month. He is accused of “systematic failure” to respect a 2014 tribunal decision giving him a suspended sentence under the condition that he would report twice a month to the police. Continue reading “Navalny and Putin, the double challenge”

The enduring myth of coloured revolutions

By Nina Bachkatov

Events in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan prompted references to “coloured revolutions”, an expression forged in 2003 when the first peaceful “revolution”, in Georgia, replaced the old guard inherited from the Soviet period by a new Western trained generation. A year later, the same pattern was used in Ukraine, then in Kyrgyzstan in 2005. Continue reading “The enduring myth of coloured revolutions”

Belarus – Armenia dilemnas

By Nina Bachkatov

With all eyes on Belarus, the latest eruption of violence in the Caucasus came as a shock. But, in fact, both crises were highly predictable due to internal and geopolitical complexities. At least they sent a strong signal to the West about the importance of geography and history over ideology. They highlight the danger of reducing the world affairs to a simplistic opposition between pro-Western and pro-Russian forces. Continue reading “Belarus – Armenia dilemnas”

Belarus lessons

By Nina Bachkatov

Whatever might happen in Belarus, the crisis that shacked the country is teaching lessons about the limits of antidemocratic regimes and the limits of outsiders’ influence. Weeks after his disputed reelection, Alexandr Lukashenko, president since 1994, is still confronted to an unusual form of contestation while his opponents face a president unwilling to follow the path of former Ukrainian president Yanukovich. Continue reading “Belarus lessons”

Political energy again dividing Russia and Belarus – differently

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

The latest energy crisis between Russia and Belarus followed a yearly routine, with partners discovering at the end of December that new contracts for energy deliveries have not been signed for next year. As usually, disagreements concern the prices that the producer wants to obtain and those the clients is ready to pay. From gas deliveries, the clash extended to oil. Continue reading “Political energy again dividing Russia and Belarus – differently”

The new regional axis Minsk-Kiev

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Belarus president does not want the world to forget that the first agreements on Donbass were signed in its capital, Minsk, in February 2015, and that it represented a diplomatic success for the man still qualified at the time by Westerners as “the last dictator of Europe”. It led indeed to a thaw in the relations between Belarus, the European Union and Washington without antagonising Moscow. Continue reading “The new regional axis Minsk-Kiev”