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No good options for Putin as protests rage in Belarus

Russian president promised to protect his beleaguered ally, but military intervention not certain

Analysts say a compromise deal with the opposition that leaves a weakened Mr Lukashenko and a mollified populace is Moscow’s preferred outcome, despite how unlikely that may appear, given his brutal response to the protests so far. “Putin sees this as Lukashenko’s internal affair,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of R. Politik, a Russian political risk consultancy. “If it was about Lukashenko versus the west, then it would be a very different story, and the Kremlin would speak differently.” “It is a dangerous situation, any protests are a challenge for Russia as well,” she added. “But right now they believe it is manageable and a consequence of bad decisions by Lukashenko.”
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