Damned if he does: why Belarus gives Putin a huge headache

World

Damned if he does: why Belarus gives Putin a huge headache

ANALYSIS | The last thing he wants is another pro-Western neighbour, but he’s in a Catch-22 situation

James Nixey

There can be few world leaders more worried than Vladimir Putin right now – although Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus is one of the few, since he is likely to lose his job, and maybe even his freedom, in the days or weeks to come.

But for the Russian president the proto-revolution on the streets of Minsk presents a dilemma. The worst outcome for Putin (which, incidentally, is the best one for the people of Belarus) is that Lukashenko is swept from power and replaced by a broadly pro-Western president – or at least one who espouses democracy. That would mean that another neighbouring country slips from what Putin considers should be in his rightful grasp, following Georgia and Ukraine.

Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova have also undergone quasi-revolutions, although they have followed a less obviously pro-Western path...

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