Although the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko is in the focus of current happenings, they are a result of much deeper and more complex developments than it may seem at a first glance. Particularly if one is looking at the developments in the country through the prism of relations between President Lukashenko and the opposition and the opposition presidential candidates.
Minsk peace agreement
The agreement was brokered by a Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, which included representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. The agreement on ending the war in the Donbass region in Ukraine was signed on 5 September 2014 by representatives of Ukraine, Russian Federation, Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The peace agreement, which was achieved after multiple previous attempts to end the conflicts in the Donbass region, established temporary ceasefire. However, as it did not succeed in stopping the fighting in the Donbass region, a new package of measures followed. It was dubbed Minsk II and was agreed on 12 February 2015. Although the new measures also did not completely end the fighting, the Minsk agreements remains the basis for any future resolution of the conflict, as agreed at a meeting of the Normandy Contact Group (Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France).
Most of the US and EU sanctions imposed on Belarus because of its treatment of political opponents were withdrawn after the release of political prisoners and its contribution to the signing of the peace agreement for Ukraine.
The EU lifted the sanctions against Belarus in February 2016. Although EU foreign ministers had decided to lift majority of sanctions against Belarus as a sign of recognition of its democratic progress, there are still concerns related to the human rights situation in the country. In fact, that is how the process of development of stronger relations between Belarus and the West, primarily the EU, begun. However, the weapons embargo has remained in place. A period of warming of relations between Belarus and the EU, that is US, followed.
Its relations with Russia, Belarus’s traditional ally, were disturbed after Minsk had refused to recognize Russian annexation of the Crimea, Ukrainian peninsula, in 2014.
Wagnerization of Belarus
Analysts believe that due to the increased presence of NATO on its western borders the Russian Federation had modified it modus operandi. Instead of directly confronting NATO, it now resorts to new forms of operations. Specifically, instigating instability in target countries and causing local conflicts. Causing an internal crisis in Belarus is an ideal opportunity for employment of the Wagner Group, which often uses the shock doctrine in its operations.
Election between democracy and peace and stability
Analysts believe that the developments in Belarus are a major test for the EU, as well as the impact and effectiveness of its policy. Namely, will it bring Belarus closer to the EU and intensify cooperation with it or will it leave Belarus at the mercy of Russia. That is why in Belarus the West is faced with two choices- will it support democracy or peace and stability? In this context, the experiences from the Western Balkans, in which the EU often did not have a “lucky hand”, will be very useful.
Which country after Belarus?
Analysts believe that intensive activities on destabilization of Belarus will continue. This leads to the following question- which country is next in line for destabilization using the “Wagnerization of Belarus” model.
 IFIMES – International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN, New York, since 2018.