Image credit: Melody Cook/CNAS

August 04, 2023

Lukashenko, Wagner, and the Future of Belarus

By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Brian Whitmore and Ryhor Astapenia

Over the past month, Belarus has been increasingly in the spotlight, with the announcement of the Wagner Group’s relocation to the country following its aborted mutiny in Russia at the end of June. While it remains to be seen exactly what role Wagner forces will have in Belarus going forward, their presence is likely to have significant implications for the future of Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko’s regime and its relations with the Kremlin. This most recent development comes within a broader context of closer ties between Belarus and Russia over the past couple of years, including a renewed push for integration under the Union State framework and notable moves such as the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory. At the same time, the legacy of mass protests in Belarus following stolen elections in 2020 continues to exert a powerful influence, as significant questions remain about the stability of the Lukashenko regime despite its increasingly repressive measures. To discuss all of this and more, Brian Whitmore and Ryhor Astapenia join the latest episode of Brussels Sprouts.

Brian Whitmore is a nonresident senior fellow at The Atlantic Council in Washington D.C. as well as a Russia and Eurasia specialist and assistant professor of practice at The University of Texas at Arlington. He is also the author of The Power Vertical Blog and host of The Power Vertical Podcast, both of which focus on Russian affairs.

Ryhor Astapenia is an academy associate and director of the Belarus Initiative in the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House. He focuses on Belarusian domestic politics and foreign policy.

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