President Putin told Russian state owned media today that the West’s unprecedented economic and political sanctions are pushing the reunification of Belarus and the Russian Federation to “new levels”.
Yesterday, Belarusian President Lukashneko also told Belarusian state owned media that other former Soviet-bloc nations should pursue a union state with Belarus and Russia in order to “guarantee their sovereignty”. This back-to-back strategic messaging with regards to the relationship between the two nations could be indicative of near future political moves to join the two states.
Also today, the Russian State Duma submitted a bill which would streamline accession of former Soviet-bloc nations to join the Russian Federation.
In March of 2022, after sanctions on both Belarus and Russia, the two prime ministers met in Minsk to reaffirm their status as a “union-state” with the option to reunify later, which has been on the docket of Russian-Belarusian relations for years. In 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin employed Russia’s security services to the aid of President Lukashenko to prop up his administration during mass protests. Since then Russian and Belarusian military cooperation has soared. The Russian Federation held its major ZAPAD- 21 exercise within the borders of Belarus and has established several permanent military bases in the country. The most important being Russian military manned radar stations near the Baltic Sea which feed into the overall Integrated Air Defense System of the Russian Aerospace Forces. In fact, at the end of the exercises in October of 2021, Russian troops and supplies never left the former soviet bloc nation, beginning the massive military buildup that precipitated the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
President Lukahsenko has touted to the press that his country will receive the vaunted S-400 Triumpf from the Russian Aerospace Forces and that the three battalions of strategic Surface-to-air missiles that are already stationed in his country will eventually become part of his military. President Lukashenko also said, prior to the invasion of Ukraine, that his country would become a “military base of Russia”, if NATO went to war with the Federation.
Belarus was instrumental in facilitating the rapid insertion of VDV troops jut outside of Kyiv during the Battle from Hostomel Airfield. Approximately 50 Russian helicopters and tactical aircraft launched from Belarus on as well as more than 30,000 ground troops which crossed the border on February 24th, 2022. However, Belarus has declined to join the Russian Federation in its war in Ukraine, instead allowing Russian aircraft to operate in its airspace to launch long range surface to ground missiles into Ukraine. This messaging and the potential joining of the two states could result in Belarus joining the war in Ukraine. If that happens then the recently activated 20,000 or so Belarusian troops that have been spotted at training areas and near the Ukrainian border could be used to open up a new front against Western Ukraine or Kyiv again. However, this could also be an elaborate ruse to draw Ukrainian defenders away from the East in order to reinforce the North. The joining of Belarus would be a turning point in the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War, but it could also drag allies to Ukraine into the war as well.