OSW Studies

The End Of The Myth of a brot herly Belarus? Russian soft power in Belarus after 2014: the background and its manifestations

The End Of The Myth of a brotherly Belarus

The Russian narrative on Belarus changed in 2014, when Russian expert circles and the government elite essentially redefined their perception of their Belarusian ally in the context of the conflict in Ukraine and the escalation of tensions between Moscow and the West. Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who was distancing himself from Moscow’s aggressive policy towards Kyiv, finally ceased to be viewed as the only and sufficient guarantor of keeping Belarus within the sphere of Russian influence. This gave rise to growing conviction in Russia that Moscow controls Minsk to an insufficient degree; the instruments of control are the energy sector (oil and gas supplies), trade (preferences on Russian output) and the military sector (close co-operation between the armies of the two countries). As a result, actions to create socio-cultural soft power promoting the ‘Russian World’ values, which had previously been taken on a very limited scale, were intensified.