Russia is ready to provide military support to the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, if necessary. Lukashenko is threatened by mass protests after a manipulated election.
During a phone call on Sunday, Putin assured the Belarusian leader that Moscow is ready to provide assistance under the terms of a military pact between the two countries.
The Kremlin wrote in the statement on the conversation between the two leaders that Belarus is the subject of "external pressure". That was not explained further.
Link in Dutch
Lukashenko blames foreign interference for the mass protests against his rule.
Sounds like Putin is indeed prepared to annex Belarus as well. Right from the dictators' playbook: blame "external pressure" for protests. Where have we heard such an excuses before?
While military intervention is indeed possible, there are still several obstackles. First, contrary to eastern Ukraine, there is no such large russian population in Belarus and little russian separatist, or pro russian sentiment. Secondly, as it is very clear by now, that most of the population doesnt want Lukashenko to stay, keeping him in power by means of foreign force will not put a full stop to population´s dissatisfaction with the regime. In best case scenario, this would create a very fragile police state, while economy would certainly go down the drain, overtime requiring more and more resources from Russia. Which is something Russia doesn´t have right now after all recent adventures, and most probably won´t have in following 10 years. Worst case scenario is a full guerilla style civil war, and that is something no one can effectively win. Afterall, Russians lerned this the hard way in the 80s. Another option would be leaving Lukashenko to his fate, or providing him with an asylum in Russia, while placing a new puppet government in place. But again, doing this by means of force, doesn´t solve any of these problems, there would be some hope, that the protests will gradually die down tho. So, not ideal. Third problem is sanctions. Eventhough many people here, and in Russia as well, are actually laughing sanctions off, the truth is they do sting, as Russia was forced to find shadier friends to trade with. We are all dealing with corona induced uncertainity, and no one needs more problems on their hands. Thirdly, geopolitical implications of supposed annexation of Belarus are massive. NATO would be bordering Russia, which is again not ideal for both sides, and this most probably will lead to another arms race. Poland would be especially vocal about this. Security of entire European continent would be destabilized, right in time for US elections. Again, not ideal for Putin. Also the very personna of Lukashenko is not exactly ideal for Putin. Then again, Belarus and Russia has created the Union state 20 years ago, and Putin has been trying to merge Belarus and Russia since he took the office. Russia is therefore bound to do something, and if anything Putin hates protests, since he experienced them in the former DDR.
I think, the main priority for Russia right now, is to keep the status quo somehow. To do so, Lukashenko has to go, as frankly its only him who is preventing this. With Lukashenko out of the picture, new elections could be organized. These elections could be easily branded as "the first free elections since 1994, provided by Russia th guardian of democracy". With some meddling, Putin would be easily able to keep any strong pro EU / west oriented candidates out of the loop. Belarus population doesnt want to become a russian federal state, so Putin will probably have to give up this ambition for now. Yet, with new government in place, elected by the people, Belarusian society would be left vulnerable, with enough internal problems and squabbles to solve before looking to the west, hence keeping the status quo and providing Russia with time, years, maybe decades. So the question is, how to throw Lukashenko under the bus, while keeping the situation under some control.