Originally published by Foreign Affairs

Yauheni Preiherman and Thomas Graham

As the unrest drags on, Western countries need to find a way to promote democratic progress in Belarus without provoking a counterproductive Russian response. A misstep on the part of the United States or others could transform the country into a zone of geopolitical confrontation. Such an outcome would harm Western interests, European security, and the people of Belarus.

To avoid such a scenario, the United States and the European Union must base their policies on a clear-eyed assessment of the protest movement’s weaknesses and Moscow’s strengths. They should seek a middle-ground solution that precipitates Lukashenko’s departure and acknowledges Russia’s close ties to the country. At the same time, they should gradually normalize relations in order to slowly create better conditions for future democratic progress. Such a policy would recognize the Belarusian protesters’ anger at the status quo, prevent the country from becoming a zone of great-power contestation, and reduce the risk of a large-scale Russian intervention that would close the path to reform.


The full text of this publication is available via Foreign Affairs.

To read the full article, visit https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/europe/2020-10-02/dont-put-belarus-middle


Yauheni Preiherman - Director, Minsk Dialogue Council on International Relations.

Thomas Graham -  Distinguished Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Senior Director for Russia on the National Security Council staff between 2004 and 2007.