The Russian – Belarusian Integration: Political Puzzles of “31 Roadmaps”
Volume 18, Issue 1 (2020), pp. 177–193
Pub. online: 1 December 2020 Type: Article Open Access
1 December 2020
1 December 2020
In 2018 Russia initiated attempts to substantially revitalize the slow process of the Russian – Belarusian integration by implementing the fundamental obligations set out in the Union Treaty not only in the fields of economy or the military, but by also resolving the essential political and financial issues, thus building a strong foundation for further creation of the union state and a certain breakthrough. This article discusses the new phase in the creation of the Union State in order to identify the reasons behind the new initiative and the key factors having led to the slow-pace integration of the Union State and different rates in individual fields. It is argued that the creation process of the Union State does not gain the required momentum due to different interests of the states: Russia’s aspirations for full control over Belarus and the efforts made by the President of Belarus seeking to maintain an integration format enabling unobstructed existence of the model of the political system established by him and allowing him to stay in power. This process could be described as a certain strategic partnership enabling flexible and non-binding actions (postponement of agreements for economic, security, and personal gain). The 2020 crisis in Belarus when President A. Lukashenko lost the legitimacy of his constituents and the Western States did not recognise the presidential election as democratic, the Union State project was “frozen” temporarily until the political situation in the country stabilizes. Under these conditions Russia’s ambition to keep Belarus has remained unchanged and it is likely that cautious tactics would be implemented to achieve this goal at the same time to avoid stirring up opposition sentiment, to maintain sentiments of the Belarusian public favourable to the great power in their neighbourhood, and to activate economic actions directed at strengthening the positions of Russian capital in the neighbouring space.