Earlier in 2020, the out-of-favor president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, was facing a serious struggle to retain his seat.
This was due to massive domestic protests and international sanctions meted on the country. However, things have somewhat changed for the president, at least with some of the citizens as he allowed Belarus to become a converging point for Russia’s troops.
Although a good number of Belarusians like the support Lukashenko is giving to the Russians, international sanctions could be the final straw that breaks Belarus’ back.
Lukashenko is Indebted to Putin
One thing is clear, Lukashenko and Belarus are dependent on Putin and Russia. Besides, in 2020, Lukashenko only remained in power because of the economic and political support he received from Putin.
In light of this, he has had no choice but to be Putin’s lapdog without question.
Looking back at the events in 2020, Lukashenko faced massive domestic protests and uproar over election fraud allegations.
The allegations were so strong that the United States of America and other western countries in the EU rejected his fraudulent re-election victory claim.
The disapproval was also met with restrictions and sanctions, which could have tanked Belarus’ economy.
Putin and Alexander Lukashenko will go down in history as criminals against humanity. pic.twitter.com/j0Hucv6cM5
— Mayte Chummia (@Maytechummia) February 27, 2022
Then, here comes Lukashenko’s knight in shiny armor, Vladimir Putin, to the rescue.
He provided a $500 million loan to Belarus. He also increased the flights between Moscow and Russia to sabotage the flight restrictions to Belarus. This helped Lukashenko so much the protests later stopped in mid-2021.
With the series of help rendered by Putin to Lukashenko, it is no wonder that he agreed to let Russia launch attacks on Ukraine from Belarusian soil.
We can also reach a logical conclusion that he isn’t thinking about what’s right for the country. He is just doing what his ‘precious master’ wants.
Sanctions Could Reignite Internal Divisions
As much as some of Lukashenko’s actions have united him with Belarusians, the sanctions could be the gasoline that reignites the fire against him.
If this happens, it could be the end of Lukashenko’s presidency.
The United States applied new sanctions Tuesday on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has allied with Russia in its war on Ukraine https://t.co/ZGc4T0xYAB
— CNN (@CNN) March 15, 2022
Besides, we have seen glimpses of resistance within Belarus against its partnership with Russia against Ukraine.
Earlier last week, reports showed that Belarusian railroad workers tampered with the railway connection between Belarus and Russia. This is a move to frustrate the efforts of transporting reinforcements to help Russia.
As the western countries continue to pile heavy sanctions on Belarus, political opposition could rise against Lukashenko to save the country from doom.
Interestingly, Lukashenko won’t have Putin or Russia to bail him out. This is because western sanctions have already wiped out more than $30b from Russia’s GDP. Besides, the figures are expected to worsen in the coming weeks or months.
In light of this, Russia and Putin already have too much on their plate to worry about pulling Belarus out of its mess.
As this continues, it will be interesting to see what happens to Belarus and Lukashenko. However, we can expect protests to erupt when the economic sanctions bite too hard.