For the first time, there is a real risk of unintended armed incidents on the Belarusian border: not because either side plans to attack the other, but because of expectations of mutual provocations, and tendencies to interpret each other’s actions in the most hostile light possible.

The new status quo in Eastern Europe is best reflected by the fact that until 2020, Minsk scored foreign policy points by positioning itself as a pragmatic partner for the West, contributing to regional stability and acting as a counterbalance to an aggressive Russia. Today, Moscow’s unwillingness to get embroiled in conflicts with NATO at the whim of its ally could just be the only factor exercising any restraint on Lukashenko’s notorious impulsivity.