Washington, D.C. — As massive protests sweep Belarus in the wake of fraudulent elections, a new issue brief from the Center for American Progress urges the United States and Europe to help support the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people.
Diplomatic support from abroad can help deter the authoritarian tendencies of Belarus’ president, Alexander Lukashenko, and the anti-democratic impulses of the Kremlin, the brief says. But it is important that Western allies tread carefully and take their cues from the protestors.
“For the United States and Europe, responding to the uprising will require precision,” said Max Bergmann, a senior fellow at CAP. “Both need to demonstrate clear and vocal support for the protestors, for democracy, and for human rights. But they must be wary that Russia and Lukashenko will claim the protests are a product of Western meddling.”
The issue brief urges the United States and Europe to take the following steps:
- Be vocal in support of Belarusian democracy
- Call for and prepare to support free and fair elections
- Threaten sanctions to deter human rights abuses
- Hit pause on normalizing relations with Belarus until the violent crackdowns are halted
- Warn Russia that direct intervention in Belarus will result in additional sanctions and increased isolation
- Don’t hesitate to call out Russian interference
- Don’t take EU and NATO membership off the table, but don’t put it on the table either
Read the issue brief: “Belarus’ Fight for a Democratic Future,” by Max Bergmann and Claire Cappaert.
For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at gro.ssergorpnacirema@lenanahs or 202-478-6327.