The onset of the Ukraine crisis in 2013–2014 entailed a fundamental transformation of Europe’s security environment which affected Belarus in many ways. Belarusian leadership had to make hard choices about their relationship with assertive Russia, bewildered EU and USA, rising China. Successful first steps allowed Minsk to gain leverage and receive substantial benefits in this new environment by using Russia-led integration frameworks to contain Russia and position itself as the “donor of regional stability and security”. But the pressure on behalf of Moscow leaves little space for further advancement on this track. Russia-related risks undermine the resource base of the country’s political regime and necessitate internal transformations that are likely to have vast foreign policy implications. The ability to manage those internal transformations will be of key importance in 2019–2020.
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