Posted on Feb 18, 2019
Fears Russia could try to swallow up its smaller neighbour Belarus are intensifying. Tensions between the two countries have been growing as Russian President Vladimir Putin's desire for further "integrations" continues.
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko is worried a new tax regime for oil planned for the new year could undermine his country's sovereignty, and has previously expressed his fears that greater integration will "destroy the country" and make it effectively a part of Russia.
Russia and Belarus have notionally been a 'union' state since 1997 but only of limited integration. However, wars in Georgia and Ukraine, as well as the annexation of Crimea, have made Belarus nervous about Russia's expansionist intentions.
Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994, said at a Moscow press conference recently: "I can read between the lines and I understand the hints. You should just say it out loud: destroy the country and become part of Russia."
The wind appears to have changed direction somewhat, with the President of Belarus suggesting that his country is now ready to unite with Russia, raising the prospect of Moscow absorbing the eastern European state, which nestles on the on the borders of EU members Poland and Lithuania, the Moscow Times has reported
Lukashenko made the comments on the third and final day of bilateral talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Rumors have long abounded that Belarus could be absorbed into Russia under Putin’s watch, deepening the union state arrangement.
“The two of us could unite tomorrow, no problem,” Lukashenko said Friday (Feb 15th). “But are you—Russians and Belarusians—ready for it?” the president added, according to Interfax. “We’re ready to unite and consolidate our efforts, states and peoples as far as we’re ready.”
Putin appeared to question the very concept of independent states in his subsequent remarks. “There are simply no fully independent states in the world. The modern world is a world of interdependence,” the Russian president said.
Konstantin Kalachyov, head of the Political Expert Group and Kremlin adviser said some politicians in Russia do not consider Belarus to be a separate nation and want to "integrate" their closest ally as they did with Crimea.
He told the Independent: "The president is worried about what will come after Lukashenko and already there are big problems.
"The economic relationship is no longer satisfactory for Russia, and ever since Crimea, Moscow has sensed Minsk no longer has its back politically."
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