Despite all the reputational risks posed by its war games with Russia, Minsk is trying to reap diplomatic benefits from them. The Belarusian military can show Western observers that Minsk’s guarantees can be trusted. On the other hand, it can convince Moscow that the country isn’t “going down the Ukrainian route,” because it isn’t afraid, despite the West’s concerns, to carry out major exercises with Russian forces.
Former president Yevgeny Shevchuk’s flight from Tiraspol may signal the culmination of Sheriff’s consolidation of power in Transdniestria, giving the country’s leaders a chance to devise a strategic development program for the first time in twenty years.
The dispute over newly established security zones on the Russia-Belarus border reveals that Moscow no longer sees Minsk as a reliable defense partner.
Moscow’s support for Moldovan President Igor Dodon doesn’t mean that it is trying to pull Chisinau away from the EU. The Kremlin realizes that its options in Moldova have become more limited in recent years, and it has tempered its expectations accordingly. Now, the Kremlin is trying to find a way to let Moldova enjoy free trade agreements with both the EU and the CIS.
The main cause of the latest crisis in Macedonia is neither Russia’s machinations nor enmity between ethnic Albanians and ethnic Macedonians: it is the EU’s unfulfilled promise that Macedonia has a European future.
The West’s reaction to the crackdown on protests in Belarus has so far been muted. Brussels noticed that Belarusian siloviki showed at least some restraint in their response, which indicates that all is not lost. Western diplomats don’t want to throw away years of progress toward convergence with Minsk because of something that could be written off as a brief spark of rage.
Even if Minsk and Moscow are able to resolve their current dispute, the standoff will go down in history, at least in Belarus. After Belarus’s declaration of independence and the creation of its state infrastructure—its bureaucracy, currency, and armed forces—this conflict will be one of the most important stages in the country’s movement away from Russia.
Following Donald Trump’s victory, Carnegie.ru asked three experts, one in Russia, one in Ukraine, and one in the United States, to comment on the question: “What impact will Trump’s victory have on Ukraine?”
The election of the pro-Russian socialist Igor Dodon as Moldova’s new president obscures the fact that the country’s main nominally pro-European oligarch won most from the outcome.
Russia and the West are less and less willing to compromise with Belarus. Both know that Belarus is in a weak negotiating position and are demanding more of Minsk than ever before.