Belarus: A Country Stuck In-Between Euro-Atlantic Security
Belarus is a former Soviet republic and now independent state that presents an interesting, yet poorly explored, empirical puzzle for Euro-Atlantic security. Theoretically informed research only rarely seems to focus on its foreign policy. When it does, it is often through the lens of the ‘last dictatorship of Europe’ or the discourse of ‘Russia’s geopolitical backyard’. While these lenses can be interesting in dealing with certain analytical questions, they shed only sporadic, and often distorting, light on the country’s overall international behaviour. It is not surprising, therefore, that the logic and nature of Belarus’s foreign policy are widely misunderstood in both academic and policy debates. Besides being a problem and challenge for Belarus itself, this established misunderstanding inhibits external actors’ ability to interpret Minsk’s behaviour in foreign affairs and to correctly identify the limits of the possible in dealing with Belarus. This, in turn circumscribes the Belarusian government’s ability to contribute more significantly to Euro-Atlantic security, an ambition it has declared since the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine in 2014.