Coming out of a meeting with Putin the Belarusian leader fell over himself to assert he isn't an obstacle to Russian-Belarusian unity
Write up by Newsweek:
The president of Belarus has said the country is ready to unite with long-time ally Russia, raising the prospect of Moscow absorbing the eastern European dictatorship on the borders of Poland and Lithuania.
President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the former Soviet state since the presidential post was created in 1994, said Friday his nation was ready to join with Russia, The Moscow Times reported.
Lukashenko made the comments on the third and final day of bilateral talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Rumors have long abounded that Belarus could be absorbed into Russia under Putin’s watch, deepening the “union state” arrangement that has existed between them since the late 1990s.
“The two of us could unite tomorrow, no problem,” Lukashenko said Friday. “But are you—Russians and Belarusians—ready for it?” the president added, according to Interfax. “We’re ready to unite and consolidate our efforts, states and peoples as far as we’re ready.”
Lukashenko has an interesting formulation. He is willing to scale back Belarusian independence but not sovereignty. This allows theoretically for a voluntary Russian-Belarusian confederacy. In the same breath he questions whether Belarusians are ready for it. However historically he has been the main obstacle to such a union. Belarusians never asked for independence. It was foisted upon them by Yeltsin when he dissolved the Soviet Union as a way to topple Gorbachev and take over in Moscow himself.
Putin for his part offered a lecture on realities of the modern world:
Putin tried to question the very concept of independent states in his subsequent remarks. “There are simply no fully independent states in the world. The modern world is a world of interdependence,” the Russian president said.
He pointed to the European Union as proof of his assertion. “There, the European Parliament makes more binding decisions for all members than the Supreme Soviet of the USSR once took such decisions for the Union republics. Is it not a dependency?” Putin asked.
Putin also suggested that U.S. military deployments in Europe have undermined nation sovereignty there. “Do you think someone from European countries wants U.S. medium-range missiles to appear in Europe?” he asked.
“No one wants that. But they sit, they keep quiet. Where is their sovereignty? But apparently they believe that in the ultimate, general calculation, they are interested in such an organization in which they have invested part of their sovereignty,” he said.