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With a New Integration Pact, Russia Cements Its Grip on Belarus

MIN READSep 13, 2021 | 17:51 GMT

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko hold a joint press conference in Moscow on Sept. 9, 2021.

(Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

The newly unveiled integration agreement between Russia and Belarus creates a broad framework for the steady erosion of the latter’s sovereignty in the coming years. On Sept. 9, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stood beside his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to announce an agreement on 28 “Union State programs,” previously referred to as “integration roadmaps.” These vague cooperation initiatives are aimed at cementing Russian influence in Belarus through bureaucratic alignment and “macroeconomic policy convergence.” The two countries will “unify” their policies, legislation, and regulations in numerous sectors, including agriculture, industry, and consumer protection. They will also “harmonize” their policies on foreign exchange, cybersecurity in the financial sphere, and even monetary policy. Through these and other measures in the agreement, Moscow is seeking to permanently secure Minsk in its geopolitical orbit amid questions of Lukashenko’s legitimacy in the aftermath of the contested 2020 presidential election. ...

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