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April 1 – April 7, 2024
Belarus-Russia relations

Belarus Enters the “Russian Future” as a Beneficiary Passenger

The situation has not changed
Belarus Enters the “Russian Future” as a Beneficiary Passenger
Фото: sb.by

On April 2, Lukashenka and Putin congratulated each other on the Day of Unity of Belarus and Russia. This occasion also saw active statements from Foreign Ministers, ambassadors, prominent parliamentarians, and other officials. To succinctly characterize the substantive part of the Belarusian-Russian leadership’s speeches, they can be distilled into two main messages: (a) the union of Belarus and Russia is developing and brilliant prospects await it; (b) the West is the basic systemic factor of unity.

The theme of opposition to the West’s neo-colonial policy “and its Ukrainian puppets” was given more attention overall than matters of “common” culture and history, as well as the sustainable development of Belarus and Russia. Thus, the celebration was not entirely festive. Nevertheless, Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Petr Tolstoy believes that “today (Western colonialism – ed.) has finally come to an end. And, of course, they fear us because after this era ends, our era will begin, the era of the Russian future.”

Belarus enters the “Russian future” as a beneficiary passenger. According to the Russian Ambassador to Belarus Boris Gryzlov, the losses of the Belarusian side from the sanctions imposed by the West in 2022 have already been compensated through contracts with Russian regions. As evidence, he cited the following data: in 2022, 22 delegations from Russian regions visited Belarus, in 2023 – 38, and in the incomplete year of 2024 – six.

In reality, it is difficult to assess the benefits and losses from Belarus’s unalternative orientation towards Russia, as well as to weigh all these “compensations” compared to the damage from sanctions. Lukashenka, in fact, demanded that officials ensure that Belarusians do not even think about the sanctions.

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The decision to establish the Day of Unity of the Peoples of Belarus and Russia was made on April 2, 1996. Then, Presidents Lukashenko and Yeltsin of Belarus and Russia, respectively, signed a treaty on the formation of a community between the two countries, followed a year later by the Treaty on the Union of Belarus and Russia. In December 1999, the Treaty on the Creation of a Union State and the Action Program of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation for the implementation of the provisions of the Treaty on the Creation of the Union State were signed. From January 26, 2000, the union officially became known as the Union State.

Twenty years later, not very much has been accomplished in practical terms in the field of union construction despite a large number of “discussed” projects (ranging from the Constitutional Act and a single currency to the creation of a single energy market). Some experts agreed that behind the facade of vigorous union construction, typical processes for the post-Soviet space were occurring: the separation of economic complexes and the delineation of political systems. The political crisis in Belarus and the subsequent Western sanctions gave a new impetus to forced integrational construction.

According to the State Secretary of the Union State Dmitry Mezentsev, over all these years (the specific term is not stated), 82 programs have been implemented for a total amount of about RUB 65 billion. This year, four new programs have been implemented, with three more in the pipeline – in the fields of space, microelectronics, electronics, automotive industry, manufacturing, casting, healthcare, and social services. Mezentsev shared with pleasure that this year the Union State’s budget was increased by 38%. These funds are primarily directed towards increasing military expenditures.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.
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