President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said today that his country had “been forced to integrate” with Russia and stressed that the true integration of the two countries’ economies presupposes “sovereignty and independence” for Belarus, the Associated Press reported. His statement comes at a time of mounting tension between the two neighboring post-Soviet states.
Belarus initiated “true integration” between the two post-Soviet states in the 1990s, when Boris Yeltsin was in power in Russia. In 1997, Russia and Belarus signed a union treaty that provided for close ties, while maintaining the sovereignty and independence of the two countries. With all the difficulties, complex problems were found, Lukashenko recalls.
Today, however, Belarus is under tremendous pressure from the Russian Federation. Economic relations have been boxing in, and recently Russia has stopped oil supplies. In this apparently imperial approach to the Kremlin’s policy towards Belarus, many are seen as a strategy of Russian President Vladimir Putin to stay in power long after his term expires in 2024, becoming the head of the new state, the AP notes.