Belarus’s Protests Aren’t Particularly Anti-Putin
Menon writes that “Putin and his government have a lot at stake in Belarus, which is why some experts have wondered (reasonably) whether Belarus in 2020 would beget a crisis akin to Ukraine in 2014. But this is very unlikely.” First, in Belarus “protesters aren’t driven by a desire to break free of Russian control,” likewise the anti-Russian and pro-European Union sentiments held by some groups involved with the protests on Kyiv's Maidan in 2014 are "notably absent on the streets of Minsk.” Menon also argues that the cultural divide between Russian speakers and Belarusian speakers is not as stark as the linguistic and cultural divisions in Ukraine, assuring that “Putin need not really fear the installation of an anti-Russian regime.” While some experts have warned of Russian intervention in Belarus, Menon argues that “Russia is much more to hew to the playbook in Armenia two years ago—sitting largely on the sidelines in hopes that whatever government follows, it will be pro-Russian.” The author concludes that “[o]ne way to prevent a national crisis from spiraling into an international one, however, is to maintain communication between Russia on the one hand and NATO and the EU on the other. Eschewing misplaced historical analogies and doomsday scenarios might help, too.”
Read the full article at Foreign Policy.
Rajan Menon is the Anne and Bernard Spitzer professor of international relations at the Powell School at the City College of New York, senior research fellow at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University, and a fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.
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