Could Russia and Belarus trade oil for national sovereignty?
The Belarusian and Russian presidents have been locked in meetings over several days in recent months, prompting rumors that the two countries are exploring deals that could see Belarus fall under the control, directly or indirectly, of Russia. Relations between Russia and Belarus have remained closer than most former soviet states since the collapse of the USSR and the two countries have maintained close economic ties, working together through the Union State of Russia and Belarus since 1999 and the Eurasian Economic Union more recently. Now, however, Russia is renegotiating economic trade terms that Belarus says would create massive reductions to their GDP. Analysts say that Russia’s interest in renegotiating these deals is connected to efforts to unite Belarus more closely with Russia. Introducing a common court and a common currency have been two other the particular efforts Russia has examined. Critics have argued that these “examinations” are veiled threats by Russia, which simply intends to annex Russia covertly or overtly. Such an annexation could resolve Putin’s candidacy issues in 2024 (when he is constitutionally barred from running for another term as President). Russia has denied any suggestion of annexation, but has stressed that the two countries are mutually planning to “move towards each other.”