Did Austria want the Anschluss? (Short Animated Documentary)
Is a Russian Anschluss possible in Belarus?
Experts – on the motives and feasibility of a possible takeover of Belarus by a partner in "the union state"
Towards the very end of the New Year, the presidents of the Russian Federation and Belarus Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko held a final meeting with each other and, it seems, again to no avail. In any case, no leaks about specific agreements have been leaked to the press..
The main concern, which the Belarusian authorities have repeatedly and persistently pointed out, is the desire to obtain compensation for losses from the so-called “tax maneuver” carried out by the Russian government. According to the figures announced by Lukashenko himself, the losses of the Belarusian budget as a result of such a maneuver amounted to almost $ 4.5 billion in three years, and by 2024 will increase by another $ 10.5 billion..
But Moscow is still deaf to the complaints of its neighbor, with whom the Russian Federation is bound by the terms of the union agreement signed on April 2, 1997 in Moscow by the presidents of Belarus and Russia, Alexander Lukashenko and Boris Yeltsin..
On this wave of contradictions and disagreements in the “union state”, rumors arose again about the Kremlin’s intention to almost swallow its neighbor, if not "voluntarily-compulsory" join Belarus to the Russian Federation, then at least get Minsk to enter a single tax and customs regime – up to the creation of joint customs services, the introduction of a single currency, and full solidarity on key issues on the international agenda.
The Kremlin itself, however, publicly rejected the desire to annex Belarus to Russia. According to the press secretary of the President Dmitry Peskov, Moscow and Minsk “are moving towards each other, and not in one direction.”.
However, this did not convince everyone, although some regional experts are skeptical about the advisability of such an “Anschluss”.
For example, Valery Solovey, head of the department of public relations at MGIMO, is sure that the hypothetical “unification” of Russia and Belarus “will not solve a single problem for the Kremlin, but it will create a lot of new ones”.
“You can change the Constitution, establish the State Council and so on without this,” he wrote on his Facebook page. Well, no turning point in the drop in the rating of the authorities will happen during the unification either. “.
In turn, professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the Higher School of Economics Nikolay Petrov In an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America, he noted that the option of uniting Russia and Belarus is indeed being discussed at the expert level. However, in his opinion, it is absolutely impossible to imagine that Alyaksandr Lukashenka would agree to this option under pressure from any force..
“And he still has huge levers of influence on the situation in his hands,” he added. “Anyway, it is completely unrealistic to expect that two authoritarian leaders will agree that one will be more important than the other.”.
The political scientist also believes that the Kremlin will not benefit in principle from the potential unification of the two countries: “It is more advantageous for it to be in a real union (of the two states). Today we have a formally union state, but in reality Lukashenka is constantly balancing between Russia and the West, and all of Moscow’s attempts to somehow “tie” him more rigidly to itself have not yet led to anything ”.
In addition, in the military-strategic sense, Belarus is a security bridgehead between the Russian Federation and the West, and this is too important a factor to be neglected, Nikolai Petrov believes..
“And in a situation where Moscow has very few allies, including in the post-Soviet space, the importance of even such conditional allies as Minsk is difficult to overestimate,” the political scientist summed up.
Publicist Alexander Chaichyts I agree that the idea of uniting the two states, which is voiced primarily by Russian experts and political leaders, can create a number of both economic and political problems for Moscow.
“From an economic point of view, the joining of Belarus to Russia in one form or another will mean the growth of the Russian Federation by another excessively large subsidized region,” he said in a commentary for the Russian service of the Voice of America. – Moscow is already forced to finance Crimea, the self-proclaimed “DPR-LPR” and Abkhazia and South Ossetia. If a country of 9 million is added here, it will become a very heavy economic burden ”.
According to the publicist, this is also fraught with serious political costs for the Kremlin in the international arena, in addition to those that it has now..
“Because it will mean knowingly illegal, given the legitimacy in the eyes of the world community of Lukashenka’s presidency, the annexation of an entire UN member state, which may turn out to be much more serious in its consequences than the annexation of Crimea or support for the self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine and Georgia. “, – he explained.
Alexander Chaichyts expressed doubt that for the Russian leadership the benefits of the next Anschluss will outweigh the new costs.
As an expert of the Atlantic Council Anders Aslund noted in his yesterday’s commentary for the Russian service of the Voice of America, Lukashenka will find a way to get out of this difficult situation, but he will have to forget about cheap energy resources. At the same time, according to the American political scientist, “… Russian propaganda requires a real Union State of Russia and Belarus, which has existed on paper for twenty years already.”.
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Anders Aslund: &# 171; Putin’s goal is to absorb Belarus&# 187;
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“Putin’s goal is to absorb Belarus, include it in Russia and head the new union state. Thus, he does not violate the Russian constitution, remaining for another presidential term. I do not think that for Putin this is “plan A” to hold on to power until the end of his days. But one way or another, he needs new victories to demonstrate to society, and he perceives Belarus as an easy prey, ”says Anders Aslund, who is called one of the best experts on the political and economic situation in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union – he worked Economic Advisor to the Governments of Russia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.
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