Western political pressure accelerates Russia’s integration with Belarus, says Putin

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that political pressure from the West is accelerating Belarus’ integration with neighboring Russia, which has been going on for more than two decades.

“Unprecedented political and social pressure from the so-called collective West is pushing us to accelerate the unification process: together to minimize the harm of illegal sanctions, to simplify the domain of production of necessary products, to develop new competences, to expand cooperation with friendly countries,” Putin said at a bilateral forum.

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The two Slavic neighbors signed a Treaty of Union in 1997 that was intended to restore some of the close ties broken by the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But Belarus’ autocratic president Alexander Lukashenko’s enthusiasm for closer political integration waxed and waned, as did Belarus’ economic dependence on its much larger, wealthier cousin.

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Lukashenko became more indebted to Moscow in late 2020, when Putin provided political and financial support as he quelled a wave of anti-government protests sparked by a presidential election that the opposition said was rigged.

In February, Lukashenko allowed Moscow to use Belarus as a launching pad for some of the Russian armored columns that invaded Belarus’ southern neighbour, Ukraine.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said last week that the two countries must take urgent joint measures to improve their defense capabilities and the combat readiness of troops. Read full story

According to the Treaty of Union, each state remains sovereign, but grants the citizens of the other the rights of residence and citizenship.

While the union has promoted economic integration and provided mutual defense in the event of an attack, efforts to establish a common currency failed nearly two decades ago.

Source: CNN Brasil

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