Despite blowing smoke, the United States is actually trying to isolate itself from current events in Belarus. Other than Trump’s terrible comments on the situation and Pompeo’s general conclusions on Belarusians and the “freedom” that they deserve, there have been no other reactions to the protests in Belarus within the past few weeks. Why is the U.S. keeping, or trying to keep, a distance?
Washington D.C., was perhaps the last place in the world to establish its extremely reserved and vague position on the situation in Belarus. During his trip to Eastern Europe, U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo felt obligated to react to the protests happening in Belarus, but just spoke in general remarks. He commented that the people of Belarus want the freedom and democracy that they deserve despite the fact that, about six months ago, he praised Alexander Lukashenko for improving human rights and promising to restore diplomatic relations. The media made note of the fact that Pompeo was being extra cautious and politically tactful.
Washington D.C., unlike Europe, didn’t even threaten sanctions, which the U.S. would generously do for any other country’s wrongdoing. The reason for this reluctance is explained by an article in the magazine The American Conservative. Ted Galen Carpenter, the article’s author, reminds the reader that the U.S. and the EU’s key countries shamelessly intervened and supported anti-government demonstrations against former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, but, unlike Lukashenko, he was elected and recognized by the West. According to journalists, current developments in Minsk, Belarus’ capital, bear a “troubling resemblance” to the 2014 coup in Ukraine. We all know how Russia responded and why the world knows about the Crimean Spring.
Carpenter calls for Washington to be smarter this time and to avoid provoking yet another crisis with Russia. Evidently, the U.S. is currently not making any definitive statements. Washington D.C. has promised the Belarusian opposition that they will not send the U.S. ambassador for now. But a promise is not a guarantee. Besides, the U.S. has had commercial interests in Belarus since the latter started buying American oil. Minsk recently received the second batch of 80,000 tonnes of oil. Moreover, an oil purchase agreement was finalized in February during Pompeo’s meeting with Lukashenko. Americans are really better off just watching from across the ocean. So why anger Russia again and lose a good customer of hydrocarbons, despite the disagreements with stubborn Europeans, who, for some reason, want cheap gas from Russia, and not liquefied natural gas from the West?
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