Russia and Belarus to hold Commission on Foreign Policy meeting

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Union-State of Belarus and Russia’s Commission of Foreign Policy will meet virtually today. The 1999

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Union-State of Belarus and Russia’s Commission of Foreign Policy will meet virtually today.

The 1999 Union-State Treaty between Belarus and Russia outlined a path to political integration between the two former Soviet republics and established supportive institutions to guide such a union. Until recently, these institutions represented the movement towards union with Belarus attempting to exercise independence while balancing its Russian relations with growing economic interests in Europe.

Discussions concerning a political union have hastened since protests against Belarus’ current President Alexander Lukashenko began earlier this year. Weeks after the protests started, Lukashenko agreed to an accelerated pace for integration, including the creation of a unified natural gas market.

Expect Russian officials to use today’s meeting to continue pushing for a union. Moscow is likely to utilise Lukashenko’s acquiescence for a process of constitutional reform—expected to include new elections—to further that end. Given Belarus’ increasing isolation, Lukashenko’s leverage to resist union is minimal and full integration expected in 2021. Regionally, complete Union-State implementation would likely mean intensification of NATO’s presence along Belarus’ border with Lithuania, as well as the heightened potential for conflict over energy and trade with Ukraine and the Baltics, as Russia secures a captive market and a deferential partner in Minsk.

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