Russia is looking around the world for a friend, besides Nicaragua. Russia used to be surrounded by clients such as Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, but Putin has burned through Russia’s soft power and lashed out at New Core states that could have prevented mentorship to the Gappish Muscovite regime.
Currently, Russia is doing its best to save something of the close relationship that Yeltsin was able to maintain with Belarus. Indeed, one of Yeltsin’s main achievements was forming the Union State of Russia and Belarus, which optimists called the “United State.”
Of course, Belarus realizes that Russia’s friendhship is made out of Moscow’s self-imposed isolation… and that this is a good bargaining situation for Minsk. So there’s been a flurry of news, with Russia and Europe both becoming closer to Belarus, and Belarus playingg Russia and Europe against each other. So Russia and Belarus strengthen defense ties, while at the same time Brussels is thawing relations with Minsk.
The most balanced take on Europe-Belarus-Russia has been the Voice of America’s article, “Frictions Emerge Between Belarus and Russia.”
This is well and good. Europe should try to contain the worst exports of Gap states like Russia, while building enough connectivity with seam states so they can eventually integrate with the core. Thus Europe should support new democracies such as Ukraine and Georgia, as well as authoritarian states opposed to Russia, such as Belarus and Azerbaijan.