Belarus is extremely unlikely to drift away from Russia and its influence. It took a war, of Russia against Ukraine, an active hostile attack, for Ukraine to make radical steps away from Russia. And Ukraine has always had that thought at the back of their head—that Ukraine is something really different and not exactly Russia.
Belarus has never entertained the idea of being something else. The maximum of differentiating itself from the Moscow Russia has been—and I believe this is the true identity—that Belarus is a better Russia.
I‘d say a Belarus not close to Russia is an artificial political construct. If this has happened and, for instance, someone would have hard proofs that the atrocities committed against unarmed protesters in Belarus in recent days are a Russian doing, then the chance of Belarus alienating itself from Russia is real.
I personally am at a loss to understand how these atrocities were ever possible. This is as if someone has run a sadist farm for years to bring about those troopers to do the beating and torturing and unthinkable humiliation against their own neighbours in such a relatively small community as Belarus.
We know from recent history that Russians did something very similar in eastern Ukraine and we often hear about unbearably sadistic practices and crippling tortures in Russian jails. Is it enough to believe that the recent beating in Belarus has been orchestrated by Russia? I don’t think so.
After all, the Lukashenko regime has been known for kidnapping and killing political opponents for decades! Lukashenko started prosecuting his opponents and media very early in his career. If he has been fully open to the idea of getting rid of people before, why not at least beating those clueless protesters on the street? Nothing seems to be on the way to this type of thinking.
So, to round up, unless someone is to prove Russia has stood behind the sadistic beating and humiliation, the Belarusians would not consider changing anything in their “Russian” identity.
Having said that, I don’t think the Belarusians would be happy to merge with Russia, either. I guess the idea of “a better Russia” is viable enough to keep the country sovereign, yet closely tied and aligned with Russia. I know that the Belarusians also have a rather intimate sentiment with Poland and Lithuania, let alone Ukraine. In this sense, Belarus, open and friendly to all its neighbours, is a concept quite different from the suspicious and isolationist Russia.
Is it true that the Belarus protest is a result of Western interests?
The mass protests of the most recent days are basically a reaction to the sadistic crackdown on the initial discontent with the rigged vote. That was the beating that drove hundreds of thousands on the streets. Was the beating in the Western interests?
What are those Western interests? To unseat Lukashenko? Because this is what the protests are now aiming at. Why would the West want to unseat Lukashenko? Belarus itself is not a threat to its neighbours and of course not to the bigger EU or the bigger West.
The Lukashenko Belarus is Russia’s—and China’s—client and doesn’t cost the EU as much as it could if it were the EU’s client. Lukashenko seems to have been balancing some non-European interests, albeit, at the expense of the Belarusian people who might have been much better off in an alliance with the EU. I don’t think the West is that much interested in Belarus. At least not as much as Belarus is interested in the West.
Would the US/EU countries intervene militarily in Belarus if Russia sent their troops?
No, the West wouldn’t intervene. First of all, of the two invasions, the Russian and the Western, the Belarusians are much more likely welcome or at least easily tolerate the former and consider the latter hostile or at least less welcome. For the Russian invasion, interference or meddling to be considered not welcome or hostile, it has to prove outwardly hostile, the same way as the Belarusian own crackdown on the protests, really sadistic. Even if the Russian meddling would crush the protest and intimidate the Belarusians, Russia will never again be able to sustain the iron grip as the Stalinist Soviet Union used to.
The Kremlin seems to have restored the forgotten taste of intimidation as an effective strategy of subduing societies, but the impression of its effectiveness may easily prove deceptive in a completely different world of fast advancing information technologies. Ukraine should serve as fundamental learning for the obsolete empire mentality—hostility and pressure from outside motivate to seek for unity and mobilise resources inside. And those internal resources, including the taste of freedom and fulfilment, have only been on the rise lately.