Saturday, October 10, 2015

Somebody's SOB

Not that I think the last Soviet-style dictatorship in Europe (sorry, Putin, you are on the way but not there yet) will sincerely reform any time soon, but this effort by the Europeans to coax Belarus away from Russia is necessary:

The European Union will lift its sanctions on Belarus, including those on authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, for four months after Sunday's vote, barring any last-minute crackdown, diplomatic sources said.

EU foreign ministers will on Monday welcome the elections if peaceful, although a formal decision on the asset freezes and travel bans will come later in October, diplomats said.

Lukashenko plays Russia off against the West to maintain independence. But that independence is important to NATO states such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and to Ukraine.

So let's play the Great Game on the big flat road west that Belarus is. Lukashenko may not be our SOB. But let's make sure he isn't Putin's.

UPDATE: Lukashenko unsurprisingly won his 5th term in office. So the SOB remains. The real contest continues over whose SOB he will be.

UPDATE: It's good enough for the European Union:

EU foreign ministers have agreed to suspend sanctions against Belarus following elections that witnessed President Lukashenko win a fifth term. But the OSCE said "significant problems" were observed at the polls.

Sadly, Belarus is indeed a road. So we need speed bumps to keep the Russians from driving too far west too fast.