Gone with the virus. How the pandemic makes Russian strategy evanescent

11 Jul 2020

(NEE) The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in three major blows to the Kremlin’s international strategy, thus making it adjust to much less favourable circumstances than when Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea and disrupted relations with the West.

First, the crisis has shown the dysfunctional inefficiency of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). The most illustrative example is the current escalation of Moscow’s tensions with Minsk, exacerbated by the two governments’ dissimilar policies towards the coronavirus which was projected onto the symbolic competition over the Victory Day parade on May 9th, which was cancelled by Putin but held by Lukashenka in spite of the risks. Mainstream television channels in Russia and Belarus “have engaged in a war of wordsaccusing each other of failing to deal with the pandemic and spreading disinformation”. According to information leaked to the media, the Kremlin is allegedly looking for contacts in Belarus who might run the country after Lukashenka. Against this background, some experts deem that the Belarus officialdom seems to be more interested in developing economic projects with Chinese partners than within the EEU. [...]

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