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As Putin’s Embrace Tightens, Belarus Strongman Reaches Out to EU

  • Lukashenko makes first visit to EU state since sanctions ended
  • Putin ally seeks to mend links to the West to broaden options
Sebastian Kurz and Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, Mar. 28.

Sebastian Kurz and Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, Mar. 28.

Photographer: Natalia Fedosenko/TASS via Getty Images

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is set to make his first bilateral visit to the European Union since it dropped sanctions against him in 2016, as he strives to balance growing pressure from Moscow for integration with Russia.

Lukashenko, once dubbed “Europe’s last dictator” by the U.S., is due to meet Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen in Vienna on Nov. 12, his first state visit to the country that hosts United Nations agencies and likes to act as hub of West-East diplomacy. The trip was flagged when then Chancellor Sebastian Kurz met Lukashenko in Minsk in March.