Friday, September 10, 2021

Russia and Belarus Inch Closer to "unite" in one USSR #2 mini state.

Just as I explained - after bloody revolution Lukashenko alone created along Western allies, its time to unite Belarus with Russia and boost otherwise garbage ratings of two top state presidential failures. Belarus revolution a free gift to Lukashenko and Putin.

President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Moscow on Thursday to discuss further integration of their countries.

l photo by Mikhail Voskresenskiy

By Anton Troianovski
Sept. 9, 2021
MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia threw his embattled, authoritarian ally in Belarus a fresh lifeline on Thursday, pledging cheap natural gas and more than $600 million in new loans as part of a push to more closely integrate the post-Soviet neighbors.

Mr. Putin and President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus met in person for the sixth time in the past year, hammering out a long-delayed integration plan that some analysts had speculated could bring the two countries to the brink of a full-blown merger.

Late Thursday evening at the Kremlin, the two leaders finally announced the contours of such a plan, but one that focused on aligning the two countries’ economies while leaving aside thornier political questions.

“We must first create an economic base, an economic foundation, in order to move forward, including on the political track,” Mr. Putin said.

The announcements, made in a joint news conference by Mr. Putin and Mr. Lukashenko, amounted to the Kremlin’s latest signal that it would stand by the Belarusian leader despite the storm of Western criticism over human rights abuses inside the country. It also showed that Mr. Putin was determined to block Belarus from following the path of its southern neighbor, Ukraine, in drifting out of Russia’s orbit and into the West’s.

Understand the Situation in Belarus
Belarus in the spotlight. The forced landing of a commercial flight on Sunday, is being seen by several countries as a state hijacking called for by its strongman president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko.
Election results and protest. It came less than a year after Belarusians were met with a violent police crackdown when they protested the results of an election that many Western governments derided as a sham.
Forced plane landing. The Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, was diverted to Minsk with the goal of detaining Roman Protasevich, a 26-year-old dissident journalist.
Who is Roman Protasevich? In a video released by the government, Mr. Protasevich confessed to taking part in organizing “mass unrest” last year, but friends say the confession was made under duress.

Mr. Putin once again endorsed Mr. Lukashenko’s rule, declaring that the political situation inside Belarus had “notably stabilized.” He upbraided Western countries for refusing to engage with Mr. Lukashenko — whose regime was hit by further Western sanctions after it forced down a commercial airliner carrying a Belarusian dissident in May — by comparing him to the Taliban.

“Everyone in principle wants to talk directly to the Taliban movement,” Mr. Putin said, noting that it is sanctioned by the United Nations. “But the president of Belarus, Aleksandr Grigoryevich Lukashenko, did not come to power as a result of armed conflict.”

Russia and Belarus have already eliminated immigration controls for each other’s citizens at their shared border, and they are close military allies. A vast, quadrennial military exercise known as Zapad-2021, scheduled to begin Friday, will see 200,000 Russian and Belarusian service members drilling in a thinly veiled rehearsal of a possible conflict with NATO.

Mr. Putin said he and Mr. Lukashenko also discussed closer military cooperation on Thursday, but he did not offer any details.

A Russian naval ship leaving port in Baltiysk on Thursday to participate in the joint Zapad-2021 military exercises with Belarus.
A Russian naval ship leaving port in Baltiysk on Thursday to participate in the joint Zapad-2021 military exercises with Belarus.Credit...Vitaly Nevar/Reuters
The establishment of a “union state” between Russia and Belarus was first agreed to in the 1990s, envisioning a common legislature and currency. But to Mr. Putin’s apparent frustration, Mr. Lukashenko dragged his feet on closer political integration with Russia for years — instead making overtures to Europe and profiting from playing Moscow and the West off each other.

The strategy ended last year, when Belarus erupted in protest over Mr. Lukashenko’s fraudulent claim of having won a landslide re-election to a sixth presidential term. Moscow, after a few days’ hesitation, swung to Mr. 

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