February 20 – February 26, 2023
Belarus-Russia relations

Integration or creeping annexation?

The situation got worse
Integration or creeping annexation?

Lukashenka met the head of Abkhazia, Aslan Bzhaniya, in Minsk. A few days later, he commented on the Kremlin’s (no longer) secret plans to take over Belarus by 2030, reiterating that independence and sovereignty remain his policy priorities. The Belarusian government and Gazprom agreed a gas price until 2025; however, the exact figure in Russian roubles was not announced.

On February 21st, the day of Vladimir Putin’s annual speech to the Russian Federal Assembly, Lukashenka received the head of Abkhazia, Aslan Bzhaniya, in Minsk. There was no news about the admission of Abkhazia and South Ossetia into the Russian Federation or the Union State, nor about the recognition of Abkhazian independence. The leaders simply discussed, in general terms, the development of cooperation between Belarus and Abkhazia.

Yahoo News and 10 other media outlets from Europe and the United States produced a document entitled “Strategic goals of the Russian Federation in the Belarusian direction”, developed by the Kremlin in 2021, in parallel with the plan to invade Ukraine.

The Kremlin plan envisaged aligning Belarusian legislation with Russia, taking control of Belarusian foreign policy, increasing Russian military presence on the territory of Belarus, officially elevating the Russian language over Belarusian, and granting Belarusians Russian citizenship. The political, military, economic and social goals of the Kremlin are divided into three categories – short-term (until 2022), medium-term (until 2025) and long-term (2030).

According to analysts, the plan amounts to a creeping annexation of Belarus. US Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter asserts that Russian objectives for Belarus are the same as those for Ukraine – complete absorption. However, there is no need for war in Belarus, and coercion will suffice.

On February 25th, a few days after the publication of the “strategy”, Lukashenka shared his analysis of the situation. He believes it is a ploy to divide Russia and Belarus, stating: “There is nothing alive in it. You know my position, it is unchanged: we are an independent sovereign state”.

A representative of the Belarusian Energy Ministry announced that an agreement between Gazprom and the Belarusian government on natural gas prices had been concluded. The price for 2023-2025 will continue at 2022 rates (USD 128.52 per 1,000 cubic meters). However, the cost of gas supplies in Russian roubles was not revealed.

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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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