Daily Memo: Stalemate in Belarus, New Weapons in the Struggle for the South China Sea

The balance of power between President Alexander Lukashenko and the opposition appears unchanged.

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Stalemate in Belarus. On Wednesday, 30 people were detained across Belarus as post-election protests continued, and police drove back protesters at Independence Square in Minsk. The balance of power between President Alexander Lukashenko and the opposition appears unchanged, but Russia and the European Union are becoming more involved. On Thursday, several EU ambassadors held a closed-door meeting with Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei on the situation in the country, and Russian President Vladimir Putin said that at Lukashenko’s request he had formed a reserve of law enforcement officers who would help Minsk if necessary. Russia is unlikely to use this reserve until it sees a serious threat to its position in Belarus. But the Kremlin is engaged already in trying to prevent the destabilization of the Belarusian economy, particularly the Belarusian ruble. (One estimate by Russia’s RBC says labor strikes have affected at least 30 large Belarusian companies whose total revenue equals 27 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.) To that end, Lukashenko and Putin agreed Thursday to refinance $1 billion worth of Belarusian debt. Who calls the shots in the South China Sea? The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on 24 Chinese companies, as well as several […]

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