“A more democratic, Eastern Slavic state on Russia’s border might be difficult for the Kremlin to accept, but the European Union and the United States could make clear that any improvement in relations with Moscow would depend on it not intervening coercively in Belarus. This risk became evident on August 15 when [Alyaksandr] Lukashenka and Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced confidence that the crisis would ‘be resolved soon.’
“How could the West support peaceful change in Belarus?
“The West might consider calling for a new presidential election in Belarus with credible monitoring. The West and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe could provide technical assistance to help ensure fair campaigning and honest balloting. …
“If and when asked, the West could be ready immediately to assist with free and fair elections and the formation of a legitimate government.”
– William Courtney, an adjunct senior fellow at the RAND Corporation, and Michael Haltzel, chairman of the Transatlantic Leadership Network and senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins University, two noted U.S. experts on Eastern Europe, writing in a RAND Corporation blog post on August 18.