In 2020, mass anti-government protests erupted across Belarus. The brutal crackdown that followed shocked the international community: the authorities arrested tens of thousands of citizens, shut down independent media and NGOs, and fomented a migrant crisis on the European Union’s border. But where many thought Belarus’s dictator, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, would fall, he instead turned to Moscow for support, intensifying repression. Many of his opponents fled the country.
Then, in February 2022, Belarus provided a staging area for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, allowing troops and missile systems to be based on its territory as large-scale war returned to Eastern Europe once again. Many outsiders now view Belarus as little more than a Russian military district, rather than a sovereign country.
Paul Hansbury offers a wide-ranging account of these two related crises. Exploring the domestic origins of Belarus’s political chaos and its international ramifications, he also assesses the effectiveness of western sanctions policy, as well as considering the history and prospects of Belarusian statehood. Does Belarus have a future as an independent polity? And how has Russia’s war with Ukraine affected Belarusians’ views of their dictatorship and the cause of democracy in their country?