Thursday, May 18, 2017
A meeting between President Alexander Lukashenka and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in early April appeared to resolve multiple disputes and set their countries back on a path of cooperation rather than confrontation. Lukashenka earlier appeared to be moving away from Moscow and engaging with the West, but this proved only temporary as Belarus is too heavily dependent on Russia for economic reorientation to be feasible.
- Russia will use import restrictions as leverage, arguing that foodstuffs are substandard or are repackaged EU products.
- Further disputes will arise if either side contests details of the deal concerning the Belarusian gas debt and energy import pricing.
- Chronically short of foreign currency, Belarus is likely to court the IMF for funding.
- Russia's treatment of Belarus will be disincentives for Azerbaijan and Moldova as they weigh up alternative geopolitical alliances.