Between a rock and a hard place: How can the EU support Belarus?

Belgium, Brussels, 1000, Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies
Wednesday, May 10 2017 / 12:00

Since February 2017, protests have erupted across Belarus, opposing a law which unfairly taxed the unemployed. The President began a general crackdown on protesters and appears to have abandoned his overtures to the West, opting instead for despotism and isolation. Despite the crackdown, further protests are planned. 

The Kremlin is obviously eager to avoid another Euromaidan in a neighbouring country. The alarm has been raised as to Moscow’s intentions during the upcoming  Zapad 2017 (“West” 2017) military drills in September: the question is which role Russian forces could play in case of a contingency.

What can the EU do to prevent such an outcome? Which leverage does it still have over the situation, and how can it best help Belarusian democrats? The European Union’s strategy of dialogue and engagement with the Belarusian regime since 2015 seems to have run its course. But what could replace it?