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Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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Europe & Central Asia

Belarus

Moscow and Minsk conducted joint tactical nuclear drills, crackdown on dissent continued, and Poland pushed to fortify border.

Belarus conducted nuclear drills with Russia. Defence Ministry 7 May conducted surprise inspection of army’s readiness to deploy tactical nuclear weapons. Checks came after Russian President Putin day prior announced joint tactical nuclear weapons drills with Belarus beginning 21 May; move, according to Russian Ministry of Defence, was in response to comments from Western officials about possible troop deployments to Ukraine (see Russia). Meanwhile, Russia 25 May transferred at least ten aircrafts to Belarus for “joint flight tactical exercise” held 27-31 May. 

Crackdown on dissent continued. Notably, Investigative Committee of Belarus 16 May initiated criminal cases against 104 opposition activists in exile for attending 25 March ‘Belarus Freedom Day’, which commemorates country’s 1918 proclamation of independence but which is banned by regime; as part of investigation, authorities same day announced raids and seizures of activists’ property. EU High Representative Josep Borrell 20 May condemned Minsk’s treatment of political prisoners, and warned regime is “increasingly targeting those who have fled the country”.

Poland moved to fortify eastern border with Belarus and Russia. Poland’s PM Donald Tusk 18 May announced Warsaw would invest $2.5bn to strengthen security and deterrence along western border, said move sought to stave off rising threat from Belarus and Russia.

Europe & Central Asia

Belarus

Minsk withdrew from arms control treaty and announced arrival of Russian nuclear weapons, crackdown on dissent continued, and West imposed more sanctions.

Belarus left arms control treaty and nuclear weapons arrived. Parliament 17 April voted to suspend participation in Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, arms control agreement that Russia withdrew from in 2023. Parliamentary Assembly 25 April adopted new military doctrine, which defines deployment of Russian nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil as strategic deterrent; during assembly, President Lukashenko announced arrival of “several dozen nuclear weapons” from Russia. Meanwhile, govt 25 April said it thwarted attack on capital Minsk by “combat drones from the territory of Lithuania”; Lithuania same day denied allegation.

Crackdown on dissent continued. Notably, Vyasna human rights group 2 April said authorities had arrested former Green Party leader Dzmitry Kuchuk for allegedly “organising activities that grossly violate public order”. Wife of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Byalyatski 9 April said Byalyatski’s health had deteriorated in solitary confinement, urged UN to “act”. Authorities 29 April banned German media organisation Deutsche Welle.

West imposed more punitive measures. U.S. 15 April imposed sanctions on Belarusian entities and individuals for “continuing support for Russia’s war against Ukraine”; Canada same day introduced measures in response to “ongoing human rights violations in Belarus since the fraudulent presidential election of 2020”.

Europe & Central Asia

Belarus

Minsk maintained pressure on opposition as tensions with its western neighbours persisted.

Crackdown on dissent continued despite opposition. Minsk court 14 March sentenced Roman Catholic religious instructor Uladzislau Beladzed, 22 March sentenced journalist Ihar Karney, both to three years in prison on extremism charges. 27 Nobel Peace Prize laureates 20 March called for “immediate release of political prisoners in Belarus”; letter also urged EU govts to take stronger action to end “brutal repression”.

Tensions between Belarus and its western neighbours remained high. Defence Ministry 11 March launched large-scale “combat readiness” check of its armed forces, involving live-fire exercises and movement of military hardware on public roads; Lithuania 14 March said check was “routine” and “no reason to worry”, despite one mechanised brigade partially relocating to border near Lithuania and Latvia. Belarus 14 March responded to Lithuania’s Feb closure of additional border crossings with temporary import bans, mainly on food products. President Lukashenko 26 March dismissed claims Minsk is planning attack on Suwalki Gap, corridor linking Poland to Lithuania, after video surfaced allegedly showing him discussing area with military commander.

Europe & Central Asia

Belarus

President Lukashenko revealed plans to run in 2025 presidential election as voters cast their ballot in parliamentary and local polls; crackdown continued. 

U.S. condemned “sham” elections. Voters 25 Feb cast their ballots in parliamentary and local elections, choosing candidates from four parties that all back President Lukashenko. U.S. same day condemned “sham” polls in which “all independent political parties were denied registration”. Election Commission 26 Feb announced that 73% of eligible voters turned out for ballot and that all 110 seats in parliament had been filled, further cementing Lukashenko’s rule. Day of election, president announced intention to run in 2025 presidential election. 

Crackdown continued, notably targeting LGBTQ+ community. European Council 19 Feb expressed “continued and deep concern” about human rights situation, stated readiness to take further targeted measures. Crackdown continued, however. Notably, state news agency Belta 19 Feb reported Minsk has prepared draft law proposing penalties for “promotion of non-traditional relationships”, referring to LGBTQ+ relationships. 

Lithuania sealed another border crossing with Belarus. Lithuania 21 Feb decided to seal off two checkpoints with Belarus, bringing total of closed border crossings to four; Vilnius’ Interior Minister announced decision was due to “risks associated with the increased activities of the Belarusian intelligence and security services against Lithuania and our citizens”.

Europe & Central Asia

Belarus

Authorities deepened crackdown, arresting over 200 people in lead-up to February elections; govt proposed new military doctrine. 

Authorities conducted mass raids as crackdown escalated. In lead-up to Feb parliamentary elections, Viasna human rights centre 23 Jan said authorities detained or interrogated scores for alleged “involvement in extremist groups”, including former political prisoners; as of 30 Jan, over 200 people “persecuted” amid ever-worsening crackdown. EU and U.S. 25 Jan decried “wave of repression”. 

Minsk announced monitors for Feb elections. Govt 5 Jan invited Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation and Commonwealth of Independent States – regional intergovernmental organisation comprising former Soviet republics – to observe 25 Feb polls, 8 Jan announced it would not invite Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe due to organisation’s “double standards”. Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya 12 Jan reiterated call to boycott elections. 

Minsk put forward updated national security doctrine. Lukashenko 16 Jan convened Security Council to discuss updated military doctrine draft, which for first time provides for use of nuclear weapons (Russia stationed tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus in 2023). Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin 19 Jan said weapons were “an important component” of doctrine’s overall focus on “preventive deterrence of potential adversaries”. Meanwhile, Lukashenko 29 Jan met with Russian President Putin 29 Jan in Russian city St. Petersburg to discuss ways to deepen alliance.

Europe & Central Asia

Belarus

U.S. and UK issued new sanctions amid continued domestic repression, and President Lukashenko embarked on diplomatic tour in Asia, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Lukashenko held intelligence summit, repression campaign continued. Lukashenko 14 Dec hosted intelligence chiefs of regional bloc Commonwealth of Independent States, claiming “foreign intelligence” operations on “our territory” were becoming “increasingly aggressive”. Meanwhile, crackdown on dissent continued. Notably, police 8 Dec detained two journalists in south-east city of Svetlahorsk on extremism charges; court in Hrodna city (west) 19 Dec sentenced human rights activist Alyaksandra Kasko to ten years in prison for participating in 2020 election protests.

President embarked on major diplomatic tour. Lukashenko 4 Dec met President Xi in Chinese capital Beijing before 8 Dec visiting United Arab Emirates for talks with Emirati President Mohammed bin Zayed. Lukashenko next day travelled to Equatorial Guinea, signing cooperation agreements with President Obiang, concluded tour with 10 Dec visit to Kenya.

Opposition leader renewed drive for international support. Exiled opposition head Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya 5 Dec testified before U.S. Congress, calling for increased support for opposition and expansion of sanctions against govt; Washington same day issued new sanctions targeting entities generating revenue for regime. UK 6 Dec announced new sanctions related to govt support for Russian invasion of Ukraine. Tsikhanouskaya 10 Dec met with EU FMs and EU High Representative Josep Borrell, who announced €30mn opposition support package.

Europe & Central Asia

Belarus

Govt continued opposition clampdown, Minsk hosted Russia-led military alliance summit, and tensions with Poland persisted.

Authorities continued stifling dissent. Human rights group Viasna 1 Nov reported media personality Larisa Gribaleva had been detained, though authorities same day released her. Maladechna court 3 Nov sentenced journalist Alyaksandr Mantsevich to four years’ imprisonment for “discrediting Belarus”. EU High Representative Josep Borrell 12 Nov warned of ever-deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus since disputed 2020 presidential election sparked crackdown, spotlighting over 40,000 arrests, 12,000 criminal cases and nearly 1,500 political prisoners. Meanwhile, President Lukashenko 20 Nov signed decree announcing parliamentary and local polls in Feb 2024, first nationwide elections since 2020. Authorities 28 Nov searched homes of opposition figures, as “preliminary stage” of election preparations.

Minsk hosted military alliance summit. Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization summit 23 Nov took place in capital Minsk, bringing together leaders from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan; Armenia’s leader did not attend amid deteriorating relations with Russia (see Armenia). During summit, Lukashenko defended hosting Russian tactical nuclear weapons as necessary response to NATO threat.

Minsk accused Warsaw of airspace violation. Foreign ministry 3 Nov summoned Polish Chargé d’affaires over alleged violation of its airspace day before.

Europe & Central Asia

Belarus

Clampdown on dissent persisted, Lukashenko applauded Poland for voting out ruling party, and Minsk sought to deepen ties with friendly states.

Repression of opposition continued. Rechytsa district court 9 Oct sentenced opposition activist Polina Sharendo-Panasyuk to additional year behind bars for disobeying prison authorities during two-year imprisonment. Barysau district court 19 Oct handed one-year sentence to another opposition figure, Zmitser Dashkevich, on same charge. EU 25 Oct expressed alarm at “ever-growing instrumentalisation of the national legislation to shrink Belarus’ civic space and silence any critical voices”.

Lukashenko praised Poles for voting out ruling party amid strained ties. Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak 3 Oct announced further troop deployment to Belarus border to repel migrants that he claimed were “sent by [President] Alexander Lukashenko’s regime…to destabilise our country”. Lukashenko 6 Oct proclaimed hope for “reset” of relations if opposition wins 15 Oct Polish elections, 27 Oct congratulated Poland for voting out ruling Law and Justice Party.

Minsk engaged in flurry of diplomatic activity. Minsk hosted number of foreign representatives throughout month. Notably, top legislator Vladimir Andreichenko 16 Oct received Venezuelan FM to discuss collaboration against Western “blackmail, coercion and sanctions”. Lukashenko 17 Oct met with Iranian VP Mohamad Mokhber, 26 Oct met with Hungarian FM Peter Szijjarto. Meanwhile, Lukashenko 29 Oct warned that Ukraine and Russia are locked in stalemate and called for talks to end fighting.

Europe & Central Asia

Belarus

48 children removed from occupied Ukrainian territories arrived in Belarus, EU labelled Minsk “an accomplice” of Russian war crimes, and tensions with western neighbours remained elevated.

Dozens of children from occupied Ukrainian regions arrived in Belarus. State news agency Belta 19 Sept reported arrival of 48 children from Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia (which Russia partly occupies and claims to have annexed) in Belarus. Head of charity organising removals said move sought to help “children from dilapidated cities and towns in the new territories of Russia”. Speaking on sidelines of UN General Assembly, Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska 20 Sept called on international partners to help ensure return of Ukrainian children forcibly taken by Russia.

Russia and Belarus continued to deepen ties. Russian President Vladimir Putin 15 Sept hosted President Lukashenko in Black Sea resort of Sochi, days after Putin held summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un; during talks, Lukashenko said Moscow and Pyonguang should consider “three-way cooperation” but did not elaborate. Talks follow European Parliament resolution 13 Sept condemning Minsk’s role in Ukraine war and calling govt “an accomplice in the crimes committed by Russia”. Meanwhile, Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation 1-6 Sept held military exercises in Belarus, with troops from Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan participating.

Tensions with Poland and Latvia persisted. State Border Committee 1 Sept claimed Polish helicopter had violated Belarusian airspace, 28 Sept blamed Poland for another airspace violation; Warsaw denied allegations. Belarus 11 Sept accused Poland of using tear gas and physical force to push back migrants trying to cross border. Meanwhile, Latvia 19 Sept announced closure of one of two border crossing points with Belarus, citing “increasing number of illegal travellers”.

Europe & Central Asia

Belarus

Tensions with western neighbours rose, while govt continued to stifle dissent.

Tensions with neighbouring NATO member states intensified. Following July arrival of mercenaries from Russia paramilitary Wagner Group, tensions between Minsk and its western neighbours escalated further. Notably, Poland 1 Aug accused Belarus of airspace incursion, which latter 3 Aug denied. Belarus 7 Aug began military drills in Grodno region near Polish and Lithuanian borders. Poland 9 Aug deployed 2,000 soldiers to border, citing mercenaries’ presence and rise in illegal border crossings, Latvia 15 Aug announced deployment of “additional forces” to its border and Lithuania 18 Aug closed two border crossings to Belarus. Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski 28 Aug said Poland, Latvia and Lithuania would close their borders with Belarus if “critical incident” involving Wagner mercenaries took place; Kaminski added that this would include border with Russian exclave Kaliningrad, which lies between Poland and Lithuania. Meanwhile, Polish President Andrzej Duda 22 Aug confirmed Russia had begun transferring short-range nuclear weapons to Belarus, which he said would change regional security architecture.

Western countries imposed more punitive measures on Belarus. EU 3 Aug and U.S. 9 Aug sanctioned dozens of Belarusian individuals and entities for human rights abuses and “involvement” in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Lithuania 4 Aug declared 910 Belarusian citizens living in country were “threat” to national security, revoking residence permits and rejecting residency requests.

Authorities continued to suppress opposition. Supreme Court mid-Aug ordered dissolution of two opposition parties, Belarusian Popular Front Party and United Civil Party. Authorities 23 Aug reportedly declared Vyasna Human Rights Centre “extremist”. Homel regional court 31 Aug sentenced journalist Larysa Shchyrakova to three years and six months in prison for “discrediting” country and facilitating extremism.

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