"Russia keeps Belarus within the family," Kupchan said. "This is a country that continues to look to Moscow for guidance and remains under the shadow of Russian power."
Kupchan also said that in Ukraine certain sections of the government sided with the opposition, and that journalists jumped on the bandwagon, which hasn't happened in Belarus.
Not knowing how widespread the support for the popular movement is worries Mendelson the most. In her view, it makes it difficult to gauge Belarus' opposition to the regime.
"There are many more obstacles to overcome because the security services are quite opaque, and we don't know [at] what degree the government stands behind the president," she said.
And as the presidential elections loom two months away, Mendelson fears a brutal crackdown.
"The real problem is that this could get very violent," she said, adding that Europe and the United States had not been as supportive as they had been with other transitional regimes.
She said that collaborating on a clear, pointed message could have an effect and possibly lead to free and fair elections, but she warned that until March, many things could happen.