Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko are set to meet today in Moscow. Today’s meeting follows Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko are set to meet today in Moscow.
Today’s meeting follows Putin and Lukashenko’s August 30 phone call, discussing the possibility of Belarus further expanding its Russian-made air defense technology. Despite NATO’s increasing scrutiny of Belarus and the current EU sanctions over Belarusian human rights violations, Belarus sentenced Maria Kolesnikova to 11 years in prison on Monday, triggering further condemnation from the EU and US. Lukashenko’s continued crackdown on opposition members coincides with Belarus’ ongoing political, economic and military cooperation with Russia.
As Lukashenko continues suppressing domestic opposition and inciting tensions with neighboring EU-NATO states, expect today’s conversation to emphasize upcoming Zapad 2021 joint military exercises, Belarus’ air defense needs and the drills’ importance in pre-empting potential NATO offensives. In addition, Lukashenko will likely discuss economic relief measures with Putin, as the sentencing of Kolesnikova will likely result in additional EU sanctions in the short term.
In the medium- to long-term, expect EU sanctions against Lukashenko to increase in response to Belarus’ growing authoritarianism. Such measures will likely push Belarus towards ceding sovereignty to Russia within the framework of the Union-State Treaty’s progression, in exchange for greater security and administrative support.