Formed after the fall of the Soviet Union in the waning years of the last century, the Union State, a loose political affiliation between the Russian Federation and the former Soviet Republic of Belarus (White Russia), has existed on the sidelines, similar to the Commonwealth of the British Empire.
Fast forwarding to today, the Union State is slowly, but steadily, becoming a possible vehicle for Russian President Vladimir Putin to ensure a fifth term as the leader of Russia.
Constitutionally barred from serving past his current period in office, ensuring a political union with Belarus would negate that restriction, and form a new nation, with a new constitution, that would allow Putin to remain in power, or so the speculation goes.
Russian state news agency TASS described economic developments in this area today.
“The agreement was signed back in 1999. It has been ratified, and, in fact, it has all the necessary information. Right now we are deciding on terms and concrete areas. There were certain differences between the Russian and the Belarusian side. The working group’s task is to describe all those points of divergence, to put them on paper and to give the supreme political leadership an opportunity to discuss everything and make decisions. This is not a matter of reunification of countries, this is a matter of unifying our economies as equal partners, which is of principal importance,” Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin said in an interview with TASS.
In December 2018, the Russian and Belarusian presidents agreed to set up an intergovernmental working group on the development of integration. Moscow and Minsk are expected to agree on all integration roadmaps by November. In July, the two presidents took part in the forum of Russian and Belarusian regions in St. Petersburg. At their bilateral meeting, they exchanged views on integration, put forward some new initiatives and tasked their governments with working on them.
On August 23, Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Rumas said that Minsk and Moscow could initial the program of action for integration within the Union State in September. The Belarusian government is expected to submit the draft program to deepen integration with Russia to Lukashenko for approval in the coming days.
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