: Delfi: Europe's last dictator comes in from the cold

15:37 Apr. 20, 2016

Delfi: Europe's last dictator comes in from the cold

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko during meeting with Oleksandr Turchynov on March 29, 2014. (Photo UNIAN)

Belarus pro-Western tendencies forces Russia to make decisions considering countries' future cooperation

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is an expert at political maneuvering, even by the standards of the colorful post-Soviet states. On the one hand, he is able to distance himself from Moscow on a string of sensitive political issues.

Watch also EU votes to lift nearly all sanctions on Belarus

On the other, he can always come up with new arguments for receiving Russian financial aid. The turmoil in Ukraine has led Lukashenko to take on a careful balancing act.

He has not only positioned himself between the feuding Russians and Ukrainians, but also managed to weave a course between his old allies to the east and his would-be friends to the west.

As early as 2008, Lukashenko began gravitating westward when he refused to recognize the Moscow-backed separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Watch also Has Europe turned blind eye to Lukashenko's human rights abuses in Belarus?

But in the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis, Belarus's pro-European foreign policy has become even more pronounced. Since then, Minsk has maintained and even improved its relations with Kyiv.

First, Lukashenko met with then acting president Oleksandr Turchynov; then, he attended the inauguration of President Petro Poroshenko. Belarus's leadership has chosen not to comment on the self-proclaimed people's republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

And while Lukashenko has acknowledged the sovereignty of Crimea as a "fact on the ground," he has deliberately avoided any questions on its legality. Belarus has not joined Russia's counter-sanctions against the West. As a result, it has become a transit hub for sanctioned goods. Full story

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