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July 24 – July 30, 2023
Belarus-Russia relations

Regional Integration with Belarus as a Russian Region

The situation has not changed
Regional Integration with Belarus as a Russian Region
Заместитель премьер-министра Беларуси Игорь Петришенко

Lukashenka and Putin discussed issues of security and integration under the auspices of the Union State. Belarus and Russia are accelerating the topic of regional cooperation.

Alexander Lukashenka, who went on another tour to the Russian Federation on July 23rd, extended his stay there until July 25th. Such a decision is hardly due to the fact that Lukashenka and Putin really like to communicate with each other; Most likely, with the fact that the negotiations were very difficult. Experts from the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) believe that the issues of the presence of PMC “Wagner” on the territory of Belarus and external threats on the borders of Russia and Belarus were discussed in detail. Lukashenka also tried to push through additional assistance through the programs of the Union State.

Lukashenka is probably trying to use his control over PMCs to extract concessions from Putin, while rejecting the Russian president’s demands for closer integration into the Union State and support for Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to ISW. An insider source also claimed that Putin, in turn, wanted to achieve more active participation of Belarus in the war in Ukraine, and rejected Lukashenka’s compromise proposal to arrange a military show with the participation of the Belarusian Armed Forces on the Ukrainian border.

At the same time, the Belarusian leadership laid out a “regional map” on the table. Projects with direct regional ties between the regions of Belarus and Russia are planned to be “transformed and scaled”. Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Igor Petrishenko said this on July 28 at a meeting of the working group on cooperation between Belarus and the Pskov region of the Russian Federation.

On July 27, the Governor of the Novgorod Region, Andrei Nikitin, noted that personal contacts – visits of the heads of Russian regions to Belarus – have a special effect. He believes that cooperation between Belarus and the Novgorod region is developing most actively. Veliky Novgorod and Minsk renewed the cooperation agreement in 2019, which has been in effect since the 1990s and exports. According to him, service centres for the maintenance of Belarusian equipment will be opened in the Novgorod region. In addition, it is planned to create joint projects in radio electronics.

The Belarusian authorities not only seek to focus on cooperation with Russian regions, but also make efforts to solve current logistical problems. In this case, they figured out how to solve the problem with the transit of timber exported from Belarus to third countries through Russian territory. To this end, it is planned to create a legal entity in the Russian Federation subordinate to the Ministry of Forestry, which will help Belarusian cargo carriers with the registration of electronic accompanying Russian-style documents. After the introduction of sectoral sanctions by the European Union on the export of Belarusian timber and wood products, Belarusian producers of these goods had to rebuild export flows. At the moment, the only, in fact, export route runs through the territory of Russia.

A new branch of the Belarusian Embassy in Russia will open in Krasnodar. The corresponding order was signed on July 27th by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

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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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