What is happening in Belarus?
Since July, Belarusian authorities have allowed thousands of refugees from the Middle East to come to Belarus and cross the country’s borders with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Many of them have tried to break through using force — 11 people have been killed as a result.Poland, Lithuania and Latvia may invoke Article 4 of the NATO charter, meaning they consider the situation a threat to their sovereignty.
Why is Belarus doing this?
NATO countries believe it’s a form of hybrid warfare aimed at provoking chaos in Europe and blackmailing the European Union into lifting existing sanctions against Belarus. However, the EU agreed to impose additional sanctions against Belarus in response to the ongoing crisis.
Why were the sanctions imposed?
The U.S. and EU imposed sanctions on Belarus after Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko rigged the August 2020 presidential election and brutally suppressed ensuing protests; 862 political prisoners are currently in jail, according to the human rights organization Viasna. Since then, the EU has tightened sanctions against Belarus.
Is Russia involved?
Since the 2020 election, Belarus has drifted deeper into Russia’s orbit. Russia sent airborne troops to Belarus for military drills. Accused of manufacturing the crisis, Putin has denied any involvement.