The Christian Science Monitor

Why Russian aid for Lukashenko doesn’t end Belarus crisis

Despite a four-hour-long, mostly secret meeting Monday between Belarus’ disputed president, Alexander Lukashenko, and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, a solution to Belarus’ month of tumultuous protests over alleged electoral fraud appears no closer.

But there is no longer the slightest doubt that Russia intends to back Mr. Lukashenko’s claim to legitimacy, after Mr. Putin promised him a lot of cash, political support, and other forms of assistance that remain unspecified.

While this may increase Mr. Putin’s leverage over Mr. Lukashenko, who has promised much to the Kremlin over the years while delivering little, Belarusian and Russian experts say that it does not solve the most glaring, immediate problem for both Russia and the Belarusian opposition: Mr. Lukashenko’s continued hold on power. Without an acknowledgment of the opposition, they say, a resolution to Belarus’ crisis will remain murky.

“What we have learned is that Putin will unambiguously back Lukashenko with

Russia’s involvement, EU’s absenceLukashenko’s limbo, and after

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