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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during their meeting in Sochi, Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during their meeting in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 7, 2020 (Photo by Sergey Mamontov for Sputnik via AP Images).

Is Russia’s Pressure on Belarus Putting It in Play for the West?

Monday, Feb. 24, 2020

At a recent summit meeting in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian ally, Alexander Lukashenko, did their best to put on a public show of comity. They even enjoyed a friendly game of hockey during a break from meetings.

But despite the public proclamations of “brotherly” ties, the relationship between Russia and Belarus is much more nuanced—and much more troubled—than that. Tensions have been especially high in recent months, as Putin pushes for greater integration between the two countries, raising fears that he could try to annex Belarus outright. Lukashenko has staunchly resisted these efforts, making the meeting on Feb. 7 just the latest episode in an ongoing war of nerves between the two leaders. ...

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