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The Union State of Russia and Belarus in the face of new challenges: the RIAC section at the II St. Petersburg Congress of International Relations Researchers

On April 27, 2024, within the framework of the II St. Petersburg Congress of International Relations Researchers "Global and Regional Challenges in the Changing World", a section of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) "Transformation of Threats to European Security: Impact on the Union State" was held.

In the course of the event dedicated to the challenges of developing the Union State of Russia and the Republic of Belarus in modern conditions, experts from both sides examined the challenges that Moscow and Minsk face in the context of the crisis in the field of European security. On the Russian side, the reports were presented by Vladislav Vorotnikov, Director of the MGIMO IIS European Studies Institute of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Svetlana Krivokhizh, Head of the Department of International Relations and Political Processes in Asia and Africa at the St. Petersburg HSE School of Social Sciences and Oriental Studies, Artem Sokolov, Researcher of the MGIMO IIS European Studies Institute of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Yulia Melnikova, RIAC Program Manager, Alexander Chekov, Researcher of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Security of the MGIMO IIS of the Russian Foreign Ministry. From the Belarusian side, Igor Avlasenko, Associate Professor of the Department of International Relations at the Belarusian State University (BSU), Olga Lazorkina, analyst of the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research, Alexandra Mikhnyuk, lecturer at the BSU Department of Environmental and Agrarian Law, and Olga Khotko, Associate Professor at the BSU Department of Public Administration, shared their vision of the situation.

The section was held as part of the Russian Science Foundation grant 24-48-10015 Transformation of military-political, energy and socio-humanitarian aspects of the European security system: importance for the Union State.

Olga Lazorkina
  • In recent years, Russia and Belarus have become even closer allies. For example, Minsk has now become the first point where Moscow calls in case of an accident and vice versa. Relations between Moscow and Minsk are no longer just friendly or fraternal, they have reached a completely new level. Belarus is no longer just an average regional state. Minsk should be a real assistant, companion for Moscow and provide it not just with support, but with high-quality help in global issues.

  • It is assumed that, on the one hand, the Union State will exclude competition, but in practice it is present in some aspects. The national interests of Russia and Belarus are identical, but certain inconsistencies remain. The factor of competition between the two states makes it possible to destroy the Western narrative of Russia's attempts to revive the USSR.

  • In the economic sphere, Russia has shown a special interest in Belarus. If before economic cooperation was mainly focused on trade, now in the current conditions Belarus can offer Russia its industrial sites, scientific and technical potential is also of interest, which can help close some positions that have come under Western sanctions. A particularly important aspect of bilateral relations is also the active development of cooperation between Belarus and the Russian regions.

  • Decline of bilateral relations occurs through business. If Russia has a capitalist economy, then Belarus has a combined one. There is a lack of momentum in the development of business dialogue.

  • A separate goal of economic cooperation development is the import substitution of Western products. Moscow and Minsk have actively joined this format of cooperation, Belarusian industrial enterprises fulfill government orders of the Russian Federation, covering a certain share of Russian needs, but the countries are still at the beginning of their journey. Linking technological import substitution with ensuring technological sovereignty remains a problem in this area.

  • Moscow and Minsk have a specific ideological goal that concerns historical memory — to counteract the revision of the history of the two states and the appointment of new roles by third countries for Russia and Belarus. To achieve this goal, Belarus, in particular, is actively implementing the mechanism for investigating the genocide of the Belarusian people. Another ideological aspect is the preservation of traditional values — they remain a staple for both countries.

  • There is no need to summarize the work of the Union State, since summing up is a Western paradigm. It is necessary to work and move forward gradually in pursuit of the objectives without reducing them to a common list.

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