Number one, your questions. Can Putin rescue Belarus' President from his own people?
Well, not really. In the sense that Belarus has shown that their special services and their military are still very much loyal to Lukashenko. And while there have been significant and very courageous demonstrations of the Belarusian people across the country, and particularly in Minsk, among all of the major enterprises, state industry, the demonstrations happened briefly and then they stopped, because people didn't want to lose their jobs and their livelihood. And the fact that this is now gone on for well over a month. I mean, President Putin has basically said that he was going to act as the backstop for Lukashenko. He'd provide military support if needed. He's now provided some additional cash, a loan of over a billion dollars, they're saying, and it was a deeply embarrassing trip by the Belarusian President to Sochi, to bend on knee, and prostrate himself in front of his boss and ruler, the Russian President.
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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, with the view from Europe:
What's really going on between the EU and the UK with the UK government threatening to change the so-called Withdrawal Agreement?
Yup, it's really bad. Because what Boris Johnson has proposed is for the UK government to defect and break international law by going away from a substantially important part of the Withdrawal Agreement that has to do with the Northern Ireland peace process. This is a break of trust between the EU and the UK, if it goes ahead. It will have very serious ramifications. And I think if it happens, I think sorry to say, that we are headed for a crash between the European Union and the UK with bad ramifications all across the board. We'll see. Not good.
Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:
First, who is Lebanon's new prime minister?
His name's Mustafa Adib and I had never heard of him. Apparently, he wasn't being considered for prime minister until apparently 24 hours ago. He was Lebanon's ambassador to Germany or is Lebanon's ambassador to Germany. And also, a PhD in political science. So clearly, we must like him. He can't be a bad guy. He looks basically like a technocrat. But in part, it's because Lebanon is impossible to govern and can't agree on any of the well-known and outspoken figures. And this is a massive economic challenge that they're facing. Their currency is falling apart. Their budgets, they can't fund. They had that massive explosion that's going to cost billions to rebuild Beirut. Just happened a couple of weeks ago. They're also fighting coronavirus. They have millions of refugees on their territory that they're paying for. And they don't have as much money from the Gulf states that they had historically because they're facing their own budgetary challenges. On top of which, it's really hard to get an IMF deal done when you don't have effective governance and when Hezbollah is part of your government structure.
Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, with this week's Europe In (more than) 60 Seconds
So what's really going on in Belarus and where is it likely to end?
Well, I wish I knew where it's going to end, I don't.
But look at the background first, briefly, what is Belarus?
Well, it's nine million people situated on the plains of Central Europe. It's an area that historically has been part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth for a long time. But of course, during the last few centuries, has been part of Russia or the Soviet Union. It was a fairly docile and uninteresting Soviet republic, very much destroyed in the horrors of the Second World War, where a lot of the fighting, the major fighting was on the territory of what is today Belarus, with the Holocaust and German and Soviet armies and all of those horrors, and rebuilt in Soviet style to a certain extent, if you look at Minsk. Then when the Soviet Union fell, Alexander Lukashenko, who had been running a collective farm, took over and has been running it since then. I think he was winning elections genuinely in the beginning, no question about that. But in their later decades, he has been falsifying elections and he has been ruling by repression. That works for a while and now it doesn't work any longer. He probably thought that he could repeat that performance this time. Falsification, 80%, he said. No one believes that. And then an amount of repression and then go back to business as usual. That did not work. That did not work. Things have changed.