Grigory Ioffe

Grigory Ioffe was born and raised in Moscow, Russia, and graduated from Moscow State University where he majored in Human Geography. He emigrated to the United States in 1989. Since 1990, he has been affiliated with Radford University in Radford, Virginia, where he is a professor of geography. Dr. Ioffe has been active in Belarusian studies since 2002. He has authored and co-authored multiple peer-refereed articles on Belarus, including “Geostrategic Interest and Democracy Promotion: Evidence from the Post-Soviet Space” in Europe-Asia Studies (2013); “Debating Belarus: An Economy in Comparative Perspective” in Eurasian Geography and Economics (2011) (co-authored with Viachaslau Yarashevich); as well as “Belarus and the West: From Estrangement to Honeymoon” in the Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics (2011). Ioffe’s book, Understanding Belarus and How Western Foreign Policy Misses the Mark was published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2008 and again in 2014. Published in 2014 by Palgrave Macmillan, his book Reassessing Lukashenka: Belarus in Cultural and Geopolitical Context is based on extensive interviews with the Belarusian leader. Ioffe also co-authored the third edition of Historical Dictionary of Belarus, published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2018. He regularly writes about Belarus for the Eurasia Daily Monitor.

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Articles by Grigory Ioffe

Can Belarus Ever Overcome the Pull of Russia?

On January 21, media outlets reported that Belarus had purchased 80,000 tons of crude oil from Norway (, January 21, 2020). A Norwegian tanker delivered this oil to the Lithuanian

Russia and Belarus Haggle over Oil and Gas Prices

The stalemate continues regarding Russia’s oil and natural gas prices for Belarus and the ensuing lack of long-term delivery contracts. No less newsworthy is the wide selection of opinions about

Belarus’s Sovereignty Upswing

Several developments suggest Belarus is entering a new phase of its evolution as a sovereign country. First, the state-owned Belarusian Oil Company has hired the American lobbyist David Gencarelli to

Belarus-Russia Integration: No Decision Yet

Despite official declarations to the contrary, June 21 passed by with no joint memorandum on deeper political-economic integration between Belarus and Russia. And while government-linked media outlets in Russia evince

New Public Demarche by Lukashenka

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka took part in the summit of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in St. Petersburg, Russia, on December 6. During the televised segment of the meeting, Lukashenka

Belarus and Its Neighbors: Ups and Downs in Relations

For four days, Minsk did not officially comment on last month’s (November 25) Russian-Ukrainian naval conflagration that occurred around the Kerch Strait. “The situation is so explosive,” opined Valer Karbalevich

Russian Media Reacts to Americans Visiting Minsk

“To say that the Russian media has been alarmed by the [recent] visitors to Minsk would be an understatement,” writes the online newspaper (, November 12), alluding to the

Lukashenka Meets American Analysts

On November 5–6, a group of high-profile foreign policy analysts from the United States visited Minsk and met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The guests included retired General Benjamin Hodges,

Belarus Navigates Rough Waters

One of the dangers of traveling in a small ship is the possibility of forceful swaying in rough waters. Belarus is a small ship, and it is supersensitive to the

Belarus in a Love Triangle With Russia and the West?

Belarus openly admits to pursuing a multi-directional foreign policy. And Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei has made multiple statements about the difficulties of balancing between East and West under growing tensions

Lukashenka Receives an Invitation to Brussels

In a dramatic reversal from years of earlier policy precedent, on October 6, Brussels extended an invitation to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka of Belarus to participate in the November 25 summit

What Are the Limits to Belarus’s Sovereignty?

The joint Russian-Belarusian Zapad 2017 war games, which ran during September 14–20, inspired a wide-ranging debate about the nature and geopolitical realities of Belarusian statehood and independence. Thus, according to

Belarusian Economy: Challenges and Gains

In the first half of 2017, Belarus’s economy finally overcame its 2.5-year-long downward trend (EurasiaExpert, August 31). Thus, Belarus’s gross domestic product (GDP) has increased 1 percent compared with the

Words Matter: Belarus and Its Western Neighbors

“Not merely tanks and weapons can kill, words can too,” wrote archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, the leader of Belarusian Catholics, in his resentful letter to Svetlana Alexievich, the 2015 Nobel Prize

In Belarus, Rhetoric Not All That Matters

Since April 18, the news in Minsk has been preoccupied with how an employee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Directorate for Combating Organized Crime stole $269,150 in cash from

Belarus-Russian Conflict Still Raging

The conflict between Russia and Belarus reached a high water mark in the scandalous pronouncements of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to the press earlier this month (see EDM, February 6). And

Belarus and Ukraine Face Strained Relations

On October 21, a regular Kyiv–Minsk flight by a Belavia (Belarusian state carrier) Boeing 737−800 passenger jet was interrupted. At 3:36 p.m., Ukrainian air traffic control demanded that the airliner,

Belarus and Russia Experience New Bout of Tensions

In recent years, there has been no shortage of bad blood between Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and the Russian Kremlin. For example, in February 2004, Lukashenka referred to the stoppage

Lukashenka in Turkey: Establishing Economic Ties

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka paid a visit to Turkey, last week, in conjunction with the April 14–15 Istanbul meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Founded in 1969, the

Belarus Goes Against the Tide

In the past week, two notable events sparked heated debate in the Belarusian and Russian press: the dispensation to Belarus of a Russian $2 billion loan and a visit to

Belarus and the West: A Policy Change Long Overdue

Two recent public opinion polls have highlighted quite revealing results about populations living in Belarus and Ukraine. First, according to the Ukrainian polling firm Rating, the opinions of Ukrainians about

The Limits of Geopolitical Thinking on Belarus

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s visit to Moscow, which had been scheduled for November 25–26 and then postponed, eventually occurred on December 15. By most accounts, the contentious issues facing Lukashenka and

Tensions on the Rise between Belarus and Russia

After several weeks of ostensible silence, discussions over a potential Russian airbase in Belarus have taken on new vigor. As early as September, President Vladimir Putin of Russia asked his

Belarus Navigates a Multipolar World

The bombshell of late November was the postponement of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s visit to Moscow, where he was supposed to have met with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The

Belarus and Russia’s Ailing Economy

The conflict that arose after Russia’s temporary ban on imports from 23 Belarusian meat processors and on Belarusian food transit to Kazakhstan (see EDM, December 3) has not been resolved

New Trade War Erupts Between Russia and Belarus

“We are beginning the new year without any problems whatsoever, even small ones, in our relations as we have settled them all,” President Alyaksandr Lukashenka observed as recently as November

Belarus Tries to Flap Its ‘Second Wing’

“We have been flying with one wing and we badly need to engage the other one,” President Alyaksandr Lukashenka once quipped, in reference to Belarus’s asymmetric international engagements—too much with

Belarus: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Three inter-related themes engage attention in the Belarusian and international media: the ambivalent image of Belarus, its upcoming presidential elections, and the Belarusian economy. The economy appears to be the

Paradoxes of Belarus’s Geopolitical Situation

There is something ironic, if not outright paradoxical, about the current configuration of Belarus’s international relationships. On its western flank, the situation appears quite negative. Notably, the European Union has

A Thaw With the West and Its Underpinnings

On September 22, the Belarus-USA Investment Forum was held at the Grand Hyatt hotel in midtown Manhattan. The forum featured speakers such as Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovch, Economy Minister

Belarus and the ‘End of Peace’ in Europe

On July 31, the international Contact Group, which aims to resolve the crisis in Ukraine (see EDM, July 18), met in Zaslavl, Belarus. It was attended by former Ukrainian president

Belarus: Hallmarks of 2013 and Prospects for 2014

The year 2013 was marked by Belarus’s deepening economic dependency on Russia. It became apparent that the generous socio-economic model of the Belarusian state—including heavily subsidized utilities and mortgage loans;

Evasive Maneuvering Around Belarus

The European Union’s Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, scheduled for November 28–29, is less than a month away. Unlike Ukraine, whose hopes of signing landmark political and trade deals with

A Business and a Pep Talk

Recent events around Belarus create the impression that if one assumes Belarus is a bridge between the two flanks of Europe, the traffic on that bridge is asymmetric. Serious business

The Potash War: A Sequel

The Belarusian-Russian potassium (potash) war has undergone several new developments. First, it appears that Uralkalii, a Russian potash producer that, in late July, left the joint Russian-Belarusian trader, Belarusian Potassium

Minsk’s Defense Against Russian Tycoon Takeovers

The Belarusian parliament has selectively revived the so-called “golden share” rule that applied between 1997 and 2008. According to that rule, the state’s representatives on the board of directors of

Belarus: Modernization amid Two Integration Projects

The latest stream of news from Belarus has three refrains—modernization, integration into the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC), and reinvigoration of ties with the European Union. All three are contained in

Belarus-Russia Integration Is Given a Boost

While Minsk has been recently trying its best to revive its relationships with the West (see EDM, February 13), reciprocal steps have not yet been undertaken by the Western countries

Belarus and Lithuania: The Estranged Brethren

On November 6, two unknown perpetrators threw two bottles with a flammable substance into the Lithuanian embassy compound in Minsk. The Investigating Committee of Belarus launched a criminal investigation; the

Belarus Aims to Rebuild Its Ties with the West

Two top personnel changes have taken place in Minsk. The longest-serving Belarusian foreign minister, Sergei Martynov (in charge from March 2003 to August 20, 2012) was replaced by Vladimir Makei,

Belarus Defies Clichés

Even after more than twenty years of statehood, Belarusians have not developed a distinctive national identity. In most countries of the Old World, the marker of identity is language. According

Is Belarus Firmly Within Russia’s Orbit?

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Belarus and the nature of the Belarus-Russia relationship continue to be debated. It can certainly be argued that “the Belarusian president is merely forestalling

Economic Normalization and European Sanctions

The results of the March 2012 national survey by the Independent Institute for Socio-Economic and Political Studies (an entity funded by the United States) reveal that the number of Belarusians

Who Is Losing Belarus?

“With the decline of America’s global preeminence, weaker countries will be more susceptible to the assertive influence of major regional powers,” writes Zbigniew Brzezinski in his recent Foreign Policy essay

Belarus Crisis: A Show of Solidarity

On September 29-30, the Eastern Partnership summit took place in Warsaw, the second such summit after the inaugural Prague meeting on May 7, 2009. The summit was to be attended

Is Belarus a Basket Case?

For the last fifteen years, Belarus has been the world’s leader in terms of the sheer number of predictions of its imminent economic collapse. And yet since 1996, the country