‘US-Russia relations can get even worse’: American diplomat warns Kremlin against military interference in Belarus

Relations between the US and Russia will deteriorate further if Moscow intervenes militarily in Belarus. That’s according to George Kent, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.

“If they think that US-Russia relationship over the past four years has been difficult, it can get worse,” Kent explained, warning that “overt intervention with force” is the worst-case scenario for both Belarus and Russia.

However, according to the American diplomat, the situation in Belarus is not related to geopolitics, insisting that the country’s authorities and civil society must solve their own problems. He suggested that the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the “natural facilitator between the current leadership and the opposition.

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“Its structures are ideally suited to address some of the issues at play in Belarus, whether it is the quality of the elections, or whether it is the nexus of political freedoms and societal relations,” he said.

At the end of August, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he had created a reserve of law enforcement officers to help Belarusian authorities in case the situation gets “out of control,” and expressed hope that there would be no need to use them.

The Belarusian presidential election was held on August 9. Incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko, who ran for a sixth term as the country’s leader, won 80 percent of the vote. According to the Belarusian opposition, the election was rigged. After the results were announced, thousands of citizens took to the streets throughout the country, and protests have been going on ever since.

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FILE PHOTO: An opposition rally in Minks, Belarus, on August 24, 2020.
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