Europe politics: Quick View - Belarus adopts less friendly stance towards Ukraine

Content Type
Country Data and Maps
Institution
Economist Intelligence Unit
Abstract
No abstract is available.
Topic
International Relations, Politics, News Analysis, Forecast
Political Geography
Russia, Ukraine, Belarus

Event

On November 15th Uladzimir Makei, the Belarusian foreign minister, met his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow, the Russian capital. Shortly after the meeting, Belarus adopted a less friendly rhetoric towards Ukraine and expelled an alleged Ukrainian spy.

Analysis

The central question in the relationship between Russia and Belarus remains Ukraine. Alyaksandar Lukashenka, the Belarusian president, has been on friendly terms with Petro Poroshenko, his Ukrainian counterpart, over the past few months. Mr Lukashenka made a visit to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, in July and met Mr Poroshenko in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, in November. In addition, Mr Lukashenka has repeatedly expressed support for Ukraine's struggle for independence from Russian influence. Such friendly behaviour towards Ukraine certainly put Mr Lukashenka at odds with Russia, but served to demonstrate that Belarus was not a mere Russian satellite. However, it seems that November 15th marked a turning point in Belarus's relationship with Ukraine.

Speaking to the press after his meeting with Mr Lavrov, Mr Makei stated that Belarus would volunteer to provide individuals for a peacekeeping force of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), should such an force be deployed to eastern Ukraine. This is unlikely to take place, owing to Ukraine's opposition to such a mission in its current proposed terms. The suggestion may have sparked anger in Ukraine, as the Ukrainian government would want any peacekeeping mission in its eastern regions to be composed exclusively of Western soldiers.

Shortly after the meeting, Belarusian official news outlets reported that the country's security services had arrested a Ukrainian journalist in Minsk, the capital, and charged him with spying for Ukraine. It was reported that the alleged spy had been working under the direction of an official of the Ukrainian embassy in Minsk. The official was promptly declared persona non grata and ordered to leave Belarus.

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