08/09/2020David J. Kramer, director of European and Eurasian studies at Florida International University’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affair
–Vladimir Kobets, executive director of the International Strategic Action Network for Security
Popular protests against the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus have left Western leaders anxious about how Russia will respond. Forceful intervention would not seem out of character for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has noted on state television that Lukashenko asked him to keep riot police at the ready in case “the situation gets out of control.” But such a course of action is almost certainly not Putin’s preference in Belarus. The Kremlin invaded and occupied territory in Georgia and Ukraine to prevent those countries from moving geopolitically westward. But in doing so, the Kremlin’s neoimperialists planted deep roots of resistance to Russian occupation and intensified popular support for Euro-Atlantic integration—especially among younger Georgians and Ukrainians. Belatedly, Moscow is learning that no amount of disinformation can reverse these trends.