Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 8 November 2021
The Next Step In Russia’s Incorporation Of Belarus
On Unity Day, a top Russian public holiday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko signed an agreement providing for a total of 28 integration road maps. In addition, the two leaders approved a joint military doctrine and a common migration policy.
When accepting the latter, the Russian and Belarusian leaders agreed on new tasks for the interior and foreign ministries, state security agencies, and border services. On the same day, Lukashenko and Putin discussed the crisis at Belarus’s border with the European Union and NATO. This again confirms that Moscow is taking part in a hybrid operation targeting Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. The two leaders agreed upon the programs at the Supreme State Council, party via video conference. Initially, Vladimir Putin was poised to come to Minsk to take part in the Union’s Supreme State Council, but the Kremlin said the president would participate via a video link amid the fragile epidemic situation. The integration programs were approved at the September 10 meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State in Minsk. The union schemes include plans to integrate the two countries’ financial, monetary, and credit policies, create common energy markets and industrial policy, unify market competition, harmonize taxation, create a common payment system, communications markets, tax, and customs regulations, sanitary and veterinary inspections, and protect consumer rights. There was no mention of issues surrounding political integration––a common parliament or a single currency. Lukashenko is striving to maintain an illusion of Belarus as an independent state as long as possible. The Belarusian strongman also said Belarus and Russia were poised to reinforce the regional grouping of the Union State’s forces. With a joint military doctrine with Belarus, Russia has absorbed the neighbor’s armed forces. Belarus’s military potential was indeed incorporated into the Russian strategy. The Belarusian army is weak and under-equipped while Lukashenko has been pumping money into interior forces and security agencies, believing it is crucial to protect his regime rather than the country’s borders. This is a task for Russia. The geographical location of Belarus is of strategic importance for Russian military plans in case of a possible war with the North Atlantic Alliance.
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