Belarus cements ‘break from West’ as Russia pushes alliance with Iran and China

Lukashenko, often referred to in Western media as Europe’s last dictator, is looking to deepen his alliances in the East following a “full break” with Western countries, an expert believes.

One way to do so, according to an author and researcher, will be joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) – which counts among its members Moscow, Beijing and, as of Tuesday, Tehran.

Rumen Dobrinsky, senior research associate at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, told “Belarus’s application to join SCO is part of Lukashenko’s strategy to strengthen the ties with Russia and Asian partners after the full break with the West.

“SCO’s membership is unlikely to have a notable immediate effect for Belarus compared to other integration structures in which Belarus participates such as – in order of importance – the Union State with Russia, the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

“Hence such a move is unlikely to have a pronounced effect on the central European region either.”

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Dr Dobrinsky described joining SCO as a “longer shot” for Minsk with “an economic connotation” for the country, given the organisation is seen as one of the vehicles to support the move away from the dollar in the trade among its member states.

Indeed, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi lashed out at the “hegemony of the dollar” during the latest SCO summit, when his country was granted membership to the organisation.

This dominance, he said, is partly responsible for the “hegemony of the West” – and to thwart it is necessary to create a new economic system no longer relying as heavily on the US dollar.

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In line with this, a joint New Delhi declaration signed by all SCO members included a call for an increase in the share of national currencies used in trades by SCO countries.

SCO, which this year was hosted by India, was attended via video link by Putin.

In his speech, he expressed his hope to see Minsk soon access the organisation – a wish shared just hours before the signing of a memorandum gave the go-ahead to Minsk to become a SCO member by the 2024 summit to be hosted by Kazakhstan.

Lukashenko, who this year attended the event as an observer rather than a member, claimed SCO would be able to count on Belarus as one of the main producers of food and fertiliser.

The Belarusian president, who took power almost three decades ago, has been a staunch supporter of Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine over the past 16 months.

This further deteriorated the links between Belarus and the West, particularly in the wake of the 2020 presidential election in the country which led to widespread allegations of vote rigging and of a crackdown on human rights.

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