Belarus and Russia to sign agreement that binds the neighbours closer together

Russia and Belarus will sign an agreement today to create an economic union, establishing free trade and overlapping energy markets

images 3

Photo: Kremlin

Russia and Belarus will sign an agreement today to create an economic union, establishing free trade and overlapping energy markets between the two states.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed interest in still further political and economic integration. However, hurdles remain, as Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko highlighted a handful of complaints regarding the potential unification of legal codes and a parliament.

Furthermore, Lukashenko, often dubbed the last dictator in Europe, insists that Belarusian sovereignty is of the utmost importance and that his country will remain independent. Lukashenko has also expressed that Belarus will maintain its Council of Ministers and court system, making full integration unlikely.

Though Russia is Belarus’s largest trading partner, Belarus has increased trade with the EU in recent months, reducing its reliance on Russian energy. This trend may well reverse, though, as Minsk enters its new economic union with Moscow.

For his part, Putin could use this agreement to legitimise another term in office. While serving three consecutive presidential terms is illegal under Russia’s constitution, a possible title change to ‘President of the Confederation of Russia and Belarus’ could allow Putin to sidestep such limitations.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.