Russia plans to integrate Belarus into the Russian Federation by 2030, according to a leaked document from Vladimir Putin’s executive office.
The secret file, reportedly dated to summer 2021, contains a plan to infiltrate Belarus politically, economically and militarily.
The ultimate goal, according to the document, is the formation of a so-called “union state” between Russia and Belarus by 2030 at the latest.
The document details each step of the plan, including “harmonizing” the laws of Belarus with those of the Russian Federation; a “coordinated foreign and defense policy” and “trade and economic cooperation … based on the priority of Russian interests”.
While both countries are already formally part of a so-called “Union State” under a 1999 agreement, the details of the leaked plan would strip away any remnants of Belarus’ sovereignty and hand over full control of its agriculture, industry and military to Moscow. cede.
The plan would also pose a major security threat to Belarus’ neighbors, Lithuania and Poland, which are NATO and EU members and will become Russia’s closest neighbours.
Putin famously described the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century” and has made numerous allusions to the concept of “historic Russia” and the “Russian world” since coming to power.
The document was prepared by a division of Putin’s office, a group charged with exercising control over neighboring countries Russia considers within its sphere of influence: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova.
According to Yahoo News, a Western intelligence officer with direct knowledge of the strategy paper said that Russia’s domestic, foreign and military intelligence agencies — the FSB, SVR and GRU — had all actively contributed to the annexation plan.
Similar documents were also unearthed in January, outlining the Kremlin’s plans to take control of Moldova, prompting the country’s prime minister to resign.
Unlike the other six former Soviet states, Belarus never embraced Western democracy after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but was ruled with an iron fist for more than three decades by Alexander Lukashenko, a staunch Russian ally known as ” Europe’s last dictator”. . .
Moscow has about 10,000 troops in Belarus and used the country as a launching pad for its invasion, sending tank battalions across the Belarusian border to attack Kiev a year ago.
In return, the Kremlin helped Lukashenko stay in power after the country’s most recent elections in 2020, which were hotly contested and led to nationwide protests and the imprisonment of opposition candidates after Lukashenko declared himself the winner.
Thousands were arrested in the ensuing raid, and the United States and the European Union responded by no longer recognizing Lukashenko as the country’s president.
But while Belarus is one of the few countries openly supporting Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Lukashenko’s relationship with Putin is becoming increasingly strained behind the scenes as he is prepared to slowly cut ties with the West and distance himself. taking Belarusian autonomy.
The document, which was obtained by an international consortium of journalists, has yet to be independently verified, but is widely believed to be authentic.
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