EU Leaders Did Not Recognise Elections Results in Belarus

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At the same time, Europe is afraid to take steps that could induce Moscow to intervene in the situation. The leaders of the European Union held an emergency summit on Wednesday, following which they did not recognize the presidential elections results in Belarus. As pointed out by the European Council, the governing body of the EU, the Belarusian elections "were neither free nor fair." It is expected in the near future the European Union to impose sanctions against Belarusian officials accused of electoral fraud, but the meeting participants expressed their unwillingness to take steps that could be perceived as an attempt to pull the country out of the Russian influence orbit. “Violence must end and a peaceful and inclusive dialogue must begin. The leadership of Belarus must reflect the will of the people,” the head of the European Council Charles Michel wrote on Twitter, announcing the start of the videoconference. European leaders are expected to agree on financial restrictions on Belarusian officials whom they believe are responsible for rigging elections and suppressing protests. However, EU officials have made it clear that they do not want to take a position that could provoke Moscow’s interference. “Belarus is not Europe,” said Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Industry, comparing it to pro-Western Ukraine and Georgia, which are the targets of Russian military operations. "Belarus is really strongly connected to Russia, and the majority of the population maintains close ties with Russia." Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who acted as the incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko’s main rival in the elections, urged EU leaders not to recognise his victory. “I urge you not to acknowledge these fraudulent elections,” she said in an English-language video message to European leaders. "Mr. Lukashenko has lost all legitimacy in the eyes of our people and the whole world." Meanwhile, many are closely following Russia's reaction to what is happening in Belarus. Monitoring resources showed that a Russian government plane, which in the past was used to transport high-ranking government officials, including the head of the FSB security service, flew to and from Belarus. Officials from Russia and Belarus did not publicly comment on this flight. Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to provide military assistance to Lukashenko if necessary. On Tuesday, the Russian leader warned German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron against interfering in the affairs of Belarus. Despite the close ties between the two countries, Putin has a complicated personal relationship with Lukashenko. Now the Kremlin is facing a choice: to stay on the side of the leader losing authority or to try defect to a new leader who will keep Minsk in the orbit of Moscow's influence.