Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka claims to have played a starring role in negotiating a settlement that halted Wagner Group leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s attempted mutiny and march on Moscow, and reportedly allowed the mercenary chief and some of his cronies to relocate to Belarus. Lukashenka’s role in mediating the conflict has put the dictator in the spotlight for his prominent loyalty to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Continued cooperation between Russia and the Lukashenka regime, which has included stationing Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus’ territory, has also raised security concerns among Belarus’ neighbors in Poland and the Baltic states, all of which will meet in Vilnius for the NATO Summit in July to discuss the Alliance’s trajectory and response to threats in the region.
What effect does Prigozhin and the Wagner Group’s presence have in Belarus? How should Ukraine and Western regional allies respond to Lukashenka’s ever-closer relations with Moscow, including the reported deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus? With Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus, how does Prigozhin and Wagner’s presence increase the risk of nuclear instability?
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, national leader of Belarus, provides pre-recorded keynote remarks.
National Leader of Belarus
Director, Belarus Initiative, Russia and Eurasia
George W. Bush Institute
Nonresident Fellow, Eurasia Center
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Eurasia Center
Adjunct Assistant Professor,
University of Texas-Arlington
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Belarus’ August 2020 presidential election saw widespread protests and serious fraud allegations as President Lukashenka claimed victory against popular opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Following a brutal crackdown against protestors by security forces, will Belarus begin its transition to democracy, or will Belarusians face further repression as Lukashenka’s rule falters?
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Wagner drama drags Belarus deeper into Russia’s wartime turbulence
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News that Wagner chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin and many of his battle-hardened troops will be exiled to Belarus has sparked concerns that the country is being dragged further into Russia’s wartime turmoil, writes Hanna Liubakova.
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Placing Russian nukes in Belarus could destabilize Putin’s last ally
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Vladimir Putin’s decision to place nuclear weapons in Belarus will strengthen Russia’s grip on the country but could also spark a new wave of opposition to Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka, writes Olivia Yanchik.
The Eurasia Center’s mission is to enhance transatlantic cooperation in promoting policies that strengthen stability, democratic values, and prosperity in Eurasia, from Eastern Europe in the West to the Caucasus, Russia, and Central Asia in the East.