The situation in Belarus is becoming increasingly confusing. After the presidential election, presumably falsified, the opposition signaled across the board and with considerable perseverance that it did not want to accept this. The EU has rarely recognized the election result unanimously and has spoken out in favor of sanctions. But Russia supports the previous President Alexander Lukashenko.
Before the election, Lukashenko expelled all of the presidential candidates with the exception of the country. The election result, which he announced with 80 percent approval of himself, is said to have resulted in around 80 percent for his competitor, according to election officials. She was then forced to leave the country.
The Russian government has promised Lukashenko every support - and that's what it is meant to be. As in previous years, a joint maneuver by the Belarusian and Russian armed forces is also planned for this autumn. While it has been perceived as threatening in recent years, especially in the Baltic states as a demonstration of the Russian possibilities, the fears are different this year: Could the Russian maneuvering troops stay in the country to try to restore the "old order" restore?
The West is responding with appeals and mind games for sanctions. Above all, the EU is surprisingly united against what is being reported from Minsk and the other cities. The West must not offer any pretext that - viewed objectively - can be seen as outside interference. That Moscow will find such interference nonetheless remains unaffected.
What can a way out look like? The best way would be a transitional government that quickly prepares new elections. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe - OSCE - could be helpful here. Why shouldn't she organize both the transitional government and the elections? That would pacify the country.
Another scenario could look like this: If Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with the ruler in Minsk, Lukashenko, in the coming week, the two could revive an old plan: the unification of Belarus and Russia. There are already concluded contracts on this. Implementing it now would kill many birds with one stone: Lukashenko could - from his point of view - resign while saving his face. He wouldn't have to admit that he was being chased off the field by the voters - or by Putin. He would go along with the feeling that he had realized this dream of the union. Putin would also have achieved a goal: his plan to restore as much of the old Soviet Union as possible would have been realized a little further. His troops in the country - see maneuvers - could secure that. The leading opposition figures have been expelled from the country - or imprisoned. You can no longer "harm". And then nobody talks about the election anymore.
With this solution, the West's argument is more difficult than with Russia's annexation of Crimea. That was an act in violation of international law at the time. Here, however, a treaty is being implemented that the then legal government in Belarus concluded with the Russian government. The mutually and contractually agreed change of borders is permissible under international law. After all, this is how Belarus came about 30 years ago.
Is this scenario unrealistic? Much that seemed unrealistic has happened in recent years. Above all, responsible politicians have to deal with such scenarios. For the EU and NATO, the common border with such an enlarged Russia would be much longer than it is today. That would have to give rise to new security policy considerations. So the planning staff in the responsible ministries and institutions should think hard.
Or do we want to be surprised by Russia again?
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