عنوان مقاله [English]
Introduction: Ever Since Putin rose to power in Russia, Belarus has pursued more independent foreign policy toward Russia's regionalism. Based on the two countries that had signed the Union Treaty in 1999, Russia called for Belarus to be more cooperative and integrative in economic, political, security, and institutional dimensions. But Belarus not only has not implemented many of the provisions of the Union State and refused Russia's multifaceted demands on more convergent policies within Eurasian institutions and has strived to expand relations with members of the European Union and other trans-regional powers. This issue has caused tensions between Russia and Belarus. Belarus has always been considered Russia's closest ally. Russia has had serious tensions with all of its neighbors since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but Belarus has been an exception and recognized as a pro-Russian state. Russia has long been the main and exclusive guarantor of Belarus' security and economy. In terms of trade, Russia has by far been Belarus' largest trading partner and on the cultural aspects, linguistic closeness and common religion, ethnicity, and history have been the reasons for Belarus' alignment with Russia. Tensions between the two countries have risen severely, especially since Putin. In terms of energy, Putin has put Belarus in a tight spot and has repeatedly cut off gas supplies to Belarus, which is dependent exclusively on Russian energy. On the other hand, Lukashenko has repeatedly condemned Russia and Putin with unprecedented and blunt statements. In addition, the government has begun significant cooperation with the European Union.
Research Question: what is the cause of the tensions between Russia and Belarus, especially during the Putin era?
Research Hypothesis: Three factors of (a) rising tensions between Russia and world powers, (b) Belarus' independent approach to Russia, and (c) Belarus's tendency to cooperate with "outside powers" such as the European Union, has led Russia to push pressure on Belarus for more integration and this pressure has increased tensions between the two countries.
Methodology (and Theoretical Framework if there are): The theoretical framework of this research is based on Olaf Knudsen's analytical model, which is used to evaluate the relationships of small powers with opposing poles of global power. In this paper the research methodology for studying the hypothesis is explanatory. Data collection tools are libraries and internet resources.
Results and discussion: The factors that increase tensions between the two countries are the EU's Eastern Partnership strategy, the Ukraine crisis, Russia's forced regionalism, energy disputes, and the expansion of Belarus' relations US. The first concerns the Eastern Partnership strategy. The EU Eastern Partnership Strategy was adopted in 2009 for six Eastern European countries, including Belarus. Russia saw the strategy as a geopolitical conspiracy by the West and the European Union to weaken RussiaIn this regard, Belarus has taken several measures, including the release of political prisoners, electoral law reform, lowering restrictions on NGOs, making laws to increase media freedom, increasing freedoms in the 2008 parliamentary elections, dialogue with political opponents, and allowing the sale of some from their newspapers, propaganda in favor of the European Union and inviting senior members of the EU. Lukashenko traveled to Western countries such as Italy in 2009 after 13 years, and then Berlusconi became the first high-ranking leader to visit Belarus in 14 years. The second is the Ukraine crisis, which has two important effects. First, Belarus resembles itself and Ukraine, thinking that Belarus might be Russia's next target. Second, since the Ukraine crisis and the annexation of Crimea to Russia, tensions between Russia and the European Union escalated unprecedentedly. As tensions between Russia and the West increased, Russia's pressure on Belarus to develop integration has increased. So the third is Russian regionalism. Russia's efforts to create a cohesive and integrated region have failed. Because of their collective memory, Russia's neighbors in Eurasia fear that Russia will violate their national sovereignty. Belarus is also one country that is very skeptical about Russia's regional goals. Russia has officially stated that Belarus' integration into Russia is possible and desirable and that six Belarussian provinces could be added to 89 Russian regions.
The fourth is energy. Russia has repeatedly used energy tools to pursue political interests in Belarus. The first case was in 2002 and the last case was in January 2020. Belarus is heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas to meet its domestic needs and to generate revenue from the processing and sale of energy. In the most recent case, the cessation of energy exports to Belarus in 2020, Russia explicitly stated that sustainable re-export of energy to Belarus was conditional on Belarus complying with the provisions of the Union State Treaty. Belarus met with US officials such as Bolton and Pompeo in 2019 and 2020, and the United States delivered its first oil shipment to Belarus in May 2020, promising to supply energy to Belarus. Russia considers the presence of NATO and the United States in Eastern Europe to be the most important security problem, and strongly opposes the development of relations between Belarus and the United States
Conclusion: All of these factors have led to unprecedented tensions between Russia and Belarus. Despite the protests of the Belarusian people against Lukashenko in 2020 and 2021 and the escalation of tensions between Belarus and the European Union and the rapprochement of Belarus and Russia, tensions between the two countries have temporarily eased However, it should be noted that the reason for the conflict between the two countries is fundamental and will continue with or without Lukashenko. Belarus seeks partnership and alliance but Russia seeks integration and unification. The threats of the European Union are limited to criticizing issues such as human rights. But Russia's threats go far beyond the disintegration of Belarus and the annexation of part of its territory to Russia, as in the case of Georgia and Ukraine, rather, Russia, as its politicians have repeatedly stated publicly and officially, claims to dominate the whole of the independent nation-state of Belarus, based on its specific interpretation of the Union State. So the realization of scenarios such as the Ukraine crisis over Belarus is not far-fetched.