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Belarus between Russia and West

September 24, 2014, 18:06 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, September 24. /ITAR-TASS/. In the current international situation, aggravated by the crisis in Ukraine, Belarus has been trying to play the role of a bridge between the West and Russia, hoping to derive some benefits for itself in the process, political scientists say. The West’s attitude to Belarus and its leader, Alexander Lukashenko, who just recently was often referred to as “the last dictator in Europe” is obviously changing for the better. All parties pursue their own interests, so Russia should stay calm about it, bearing in mind the geopolitical importance of Belarus.

“If there is someone who has benefited from the crisis in Ukraine, it is Belarus,” the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta says in an editorial. “The climate around the country is changing before our eyes.” An investment forum on Belarus is underway in the United States. Belarussian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich said at its opening that Minsk-Washington relations are to see fundamental resetting and everything will be done to ensure Belarus is the best place for implementing US investors’ projects.

A delegation from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will arrive in Belarus soon to look into the situation in the country’s economy.

The relations between the West and Belarus have entered a phase of warming not just because Minsk has offered to host negotiations on settling the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the daily believes. Quite obvious are the attempts by the West to shake loose the economic bonds inside the Eurasian Economic Union.

Deputy chief of the Eurasian Studies Center, Alexander Gronsky, has drawn attention to the fact that whereas in the international scene, for instance, in the United Nations, Belarus has always supported Russia, when it comes to some particularities, a self-serving game begins. In the light of the presidential election due in Belarus next autumn the authorities may find it “beneficial to present their country as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine and between Russia and the European Union,” Gronsky told the ITAR-TASS political analysis center.

Belarus will now be balancing between Russia and the West, the way Ukraine has been doing for a long while, says Konstantin Zatulin, director of the CIS Studies Institute, .

“In the East it will be talking about brotherly bonds and getting oil and gas at a discount in exchange. And in the West Belarus will present itself as an independent country and a safeguard against encroaches by Russia,” Argumenty i Fakty quotes Zatulin as saying.


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