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Powder Keg

Nothing is improbable anymore. 

A commercial plane flying from Athens, Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania is intercepted by a Belarus military jet and “recommended” to land in Minsk, Belarus despite the fact that the plane is closer to Vilnius. The Belarus Air Traffic control informs the pilot that there is a bomb threat on board. 

The plane lands in Minsk. Everyone’s luggage is off boarded on the tarmac and bomb sniffing dogs get to work. They don’t find anything. Meanwhile, a single passenger is isolated and taken separately by security agents. When the plane was asked to land in Minsk, he instantly knew what was afoot and declared to his fellow passengers that the death penalty awaited him there.

This passenger, Roman Protasevich, was a Belarus dissident living in exile in Poland since 2009. He was instrumental in organizing protests from abroad in 2019 against the autocratic Lukashenko regime that refused to accept the results of the election and bow out.

Lukashenko is ably supported by Russia which sees Belarus as the last stop against NATO expansion. So, now we have a Russia vs EU/West situation riddled with tension.

How did World War I start? Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Serbian. What was seen as an insignificant killing quickly escalated into a full blown war amongst various nations in Europe. However, there was a backdrop of tension for decades before 1914 in Europe.

Does this incident have that potential? Tensions are already high between Russia and the USA and EU. Russia has continued to support Lukashenko and is promising to send him aid. Russia is brazenly attacking the US using cyber hacking as a war tool. 

Where can this go from here? Belarus will be sanctioned and isolated. Russia could start administering it by proxy. Belarus could see a period of unrest and Lukashenko could be deposed. With Belarus being a neighbor of Ukraine, one could start seeing war like moves in that region. 

It’s an interesting geo political situation that demands closer attention as I believe it has the potential to escalate.

Let’s see in 6 months. 

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