What price will Belarus pay for supporting Russia in Ukraine?
Since it invaded Ukraine, Russia has become increasingly isolated from the rest of the world. One of its few remaining allies is the authoritarian leadership of Belarus. However its smaller neighbour is paying the price for its role in Putin’s war. Vladimir Putin has been tightening his hold over Belarus – and its autocratic leader Alexander Lukashenko. And with the two countries targeted by sanctions over the Ukraine war, Russian dominance is only set to grow. Last fall Putin and Lukashenko agreed on a 28-point economic cooperation plan. It includes a common monetary policy and energy market. But in this partnership, Russia is firmly in the driver’s seat. Around 45% of all goods exported by Belarus in 2020 went to Russia. These mainly included fertilizers and food, such as dairy products and meat, and trucks. It’s a similar story for imports: Half came from Russia – primarily raw materials such as oil and gas. The two nations hope to establish a common energy market by 2023. Moscow has already signed Belarus up for its Eurasian Economic Union – a trading bloc aimed at increasing Russian influence over former Soviet countries.