Moscow indirectly supported the recent Bosnian Serb referendum, not because it has an active new agenda in the Balkans but as a warning shot to the European Union.
In light of Minsk’s strict control over the electoral process, the election of two oppositionists to Belarusian parliament suggests that President Alexander Lukashenko is looking to improve relations with the West. How far will he go?
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his administration have increasingly divergent views about reform. Why hasn’t Lukashenko sacked his freethinking ministers? Is “Europe’s last dictatorship” actually liberalizing?
Lukashenko has used a recent audience with the Pope as a way to enhance Belarus’s ties with the West. But the West no longer expects Minsk to be a close ally and to embrace European standards. Instead, it’s expected to be a source of stability. This mismatch in expectations will soon come to a head and the rapprochement will grind to a halt.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has contradicted himself several times on the issue of the status of Crimea. His ambiguities have helped him to maintain good relations with both Russia and Ukraine, and to forge a new relationship with the West.
Lukashenko’s fortunes have changed. Once known as “Europe’s last dictator,” he has won friends in Europe, while antagonizing his traditional ally, Russia. It’s a situation that has left the Kremlin in a difficult positon: should it punish Belarus for its pro-Western tendencies? Or should it continue to prop up the Belarusian economy rather than risk further unrest in the region?
The Hungarian prime minister’s trip to Moscow was short on substance—despite loud declarations to the contrary. Even a risk-taker like Viktor Orban cannot afford to abandon the West to make separate deals with Russia.
Montenegro’s veteran leader has maneuvered his country into NATO. Russia is upset, but unlikely to respond in a serious manner.
The turmoil in eastern Ukraine has shaken the post–Cold War order. But there is reason to hope a more effective approach to building regional security might be possible.
The dramatic arrest of former prime minister Vlad Filat is probably the work of his fiercest political rival utilizing an unprecedented mistake. It will help expose Moldova’s culture of corruption but may put a halt to its integration with the EU.