Russia’s Game in Belarus: 2020 Presidential Elections as a Checkmate for Lukashenka? Cover Image

Russia’s Game in Belarus: 2020 Presidential Elections as a Checkmate for Lukashenka?
Russia’s Game in Belarus: 2020 Presidential Elections as a Checkmate for Lukashenka?

Author(s): Alla Leukavets
Subject(s): Government/Political systems, International relations/trade, Geopolitics
Published by: SAGE Publications Ltd
Keywords: Russia; Belarus; 2020 presidential elections; Lukashenka; Belarusian sovereignty; Russia’s influence in Belarus; sponsored authoritarianism;

Summary/Abstract: It is sometimes claimed that during his 26 years of rule Lukashenka has acted as a guarantor of Belarusian sovereignty (Preiherman, 2018; Tsikhamirau, 2018). According to this point of view, as long as Lukashenka stays in power, Russia will not be able to fully control Belarus. This paper will argue that although during Lukashenka’s time in office Belarus has avoided deeper integration with Russia within the Union State, the Belarusian regime has failed to reduce the country’s economic dependence on its eastern neighbor. This provided the Kremlin with leverage to control Belarus, compromising its sovereignty. The extent of the leverage became particularly evident in the wake of the 2020 presidential elections when the survival of the Belarusian regime proved to be contingent on Russia’s support. The Kremlin’s generous economic assistance over the last 26 years has created a “sponsored authoritarianism” in Belarus. Lukashenka’s role in it is to ensure that the country will not leave the orbit of Russia’s influence and drift to the West while the Kremlin attempts to realize a soft mode of occupation of Belarus via deep economic and political integration under the auspices of unified supranational bodies.

  • Issue Year: 29/2021
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 90-101
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: English