AFTER PRIGOZHIN, WHAT’S NEXT FOR BELARUS? - Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka claims to have played a starring role in negotiating a settlement that halted Wagner Group leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s attempted mutiny and march on Moscow, and reportedly allowed the mercenary chief and some of his cronies to relocate to Belarus. Lukashenka’s role in mediating the conflict has put the dictator in the spotlight for his prominent loyalty to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Continued cooperation between Russia and the Lukashenka regime, which has included stationing Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus’ territory, has also raised security concerns among Belarus’ neighbors in Poland and the Baltic states, all of which will meet in Vilnius for the NATO Summit in July to discuss the Alliance’s trajectory and response to threats in the region.
What effect does Prigozhin and the Wagner Group’s presence have in Belarus? How should Ukraine and Western regional allies respond to Lukashenka’s ever-closer relations with Moscow, including the reported deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus? With Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus, how does Prigozhin and Wagner’s presence increase the risk of nuclear instability?
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, national leader of Belarus, provided pre-recorded keynote remarks.
ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 07/05/23