The Role of Belarus in the Russia-Ukraine War
Belarus, the largest landlocked European country bordering the two warring nations has found itself in a precarious position amid its political proximity with Russia.
Belarus is a former Soviet republic of 9.4 million people that borders both Russia and Ukraine as well as Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. It is also Europe’s last dictatorship.
Belarus proximity to Russia:
- The border between Belarus and Ukraine stretches about 674 miles – roughly half the length of Ukraine’s border with Russia.
- Russia is Belarus’ largest trading partner. It also enjoys subsidies on gas and oil from Russia.
- After 2020 election in Belarus, protests erupted as the results were considered fraudulent. Putin offered financial and military support to help Lukashenko silence the protests — without any international response or pushback. Putin also warned foreign powers not to interfere in Belarus’ affairs.
- Since 2020, Belarus has faced a series of international economic sanctions that further alienated Lukashenko from the West.
- The lack of international reaction to Putin enabling Lukashenko’s behaviour — alongside the economic pressure — pushed the Belarusian leader even closer to the Kremlin.
Role of Belarus in current war:
- It allowed Russian troops to use its territory for invasion.
- Belarus scrapped its commitment to remaining nuclear free following a public referendum vote. This change in Belarus’ constitution would allow Belarus to physically host Russian nuclear weapons.
- Lukashenko also offered to host Russian nuclear weapons if NATO moves nuclear weapons from Germany to Eastern Europe.
- By hosting Russian troops and weapons, Lukashenko has shown that he is closely aligned with Putin — despite the popular will of the Belarusian people to maintain distance.
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