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What Belarus Wants From China

With Belarus partisans claiming to have shot down a Russian spy plane, now is a good time to discuss the extremely precarious position in which Belarus finds itself, sandwiched between Russia and Ukraine in a war it doesn’t want, with a dictator beholden to Russia and who will be protected at all costs. There are only two options for Lukashenko–Russia or a Russian invasion along the lines of Ukraine. Lukashenko is now cultivating a potential third option–China. 

In a grandly publicized meeting this week with Chinese President XI Jinping, Lukashenko signed a 16-document package with Beijing that could have multiple angles. First, it could help China evade Russian sanctions by funneling aid to Moscow via Minsk. Second, it could further facilitate suspicions that China will attempt to get arms to Russia secretly through Belarus. But there is more to it than this. This isn’t just Lukashenko trying to help Putin… It’s Lukashenko trying to bring in more Chinese money and other support as a buffer against Russia. 

The Belarusian opposition has been backed into an even worse corner than before. It’s not getting support from Ukraine because Kyiv is hesitant to poke the Lukashenko bear on its border and provoke him into lending a more active helping hand to Moscow. Likewise, Western actions against Belarus seem to be dangerous at this moment, even if they are intended to bolster the opposition. If the opposition gains…

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