The Kremlin Plan. A “Road map” for the Destruction of Belarus as a Nation
According to documents leaked to the media, Russia has been secretly developing a plan to annex Belarus gradually over the next few years. So far, president Lukashenko’s regime has done nothing to stop it, on the contrary, says Belarusian journalist Igor Lenkevich.
Russia’s plan for integrating Belarus was published today (on 20/02). It may without exaggeration be called a programme for the annihilation of our country. The Kremlin is putting into practice a project that will destroy Belarusian independence, and the Lukashenko regime is doing nothing to resist it. On the contrary, it is creating the best possible conditions for the desired result to be achieved.
The Russia-produced plan was apparently leaked to the Yahoo News editorial board by a source in Putin’s presidential administration. Yahoo News in turn shared the document with several media outlets. It is impossible to confirm the authenticity of the document; however, in the words of the Director of the Belarusian Investigative Center Stanislau Ivashkevich, the journalist who acquired this material “has an untarnished reputation in international investigative circles.”
The plan now in the hands of the mass media is more like an analytical document that forms the basis for the Kremlin’s strategy for swallowing Belarus. This does not change the essence of the document’s message: fulfilling the measures it sets out aims at the creation of a “fully-fledged Union state by 2030”.
Belarus must either lose its independence completely or at least have it seriously curtailed. The plan’s authors state this openly, without equivocation.
The document is dated 2021. This is not by chance. In striving to retain power after the events of 2020, the Belarusian regime has found itself totally dependent on Russia. This may have moved the Kremlin to draw up a plan to swallow our country. Provided the plan is not a fake, it must mean that Aleksandr Lukashenko has consciously made a move towards destroying Belarusian statehood in exchange for Russian political and economic support. As a result 28 “union programmes” for increased integration were confirmed in November 2021.
The plan sets out short-term, medium-term and long-term prospects in the political, economic and humanitarian spheres. Some of its provisions have already been put into practice or are present in the wording of the “union programmes” that Lukashenko and Putin have already discussed.
A significant number of Russia’s short-term aims set out in the document have already been reached. As the Kremlin has noted, several joint Belarusian-Russian military exercises are being held.
One of these joint exercises ended in February 2022 with the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine from Belarusian territory. Newly mobilised Russian recruits are undergoing training in our country with the participation of serving Belarusian soldiers, before being sent to the Ukrainian front. Because of the sanctions imposed on the regime, Belarusian goods are now being rerouted from the Baltic ports to Russian ports, roaming between Belarus and the Russian Federation has been discontinued. The agreement on mutual recognition of visas has been ratified. All these points are present in this recently published document.
The document mentions other aims that are also important for the Russian Federation, including “curtailing the influence of nationalist and pro-Western forces” in our country. This is another area in which the regime is doing its utmost to aid the Kremlin by imprisoning all those involved in the cultural rebirth of Belarus after accusing them of “extremism”, by banning national symbols and rewriting history. The task of “establishing stable pro-Russian pressure groups among the Belarusian political elite” is yet another one that may be considered as completed—all those who speak out against the policies of the Russian Federation have long been deprived of any voice in their own country.
The Kremlin has also succeeded in meeting some of their medium-term aims. For example: the idea that a Belarusian military unit could take part in joint military exercises with NATO countries now looks completely unrealistic.The influence of the Russian mass media has grown considerably since the destruction of the independent Belarusian media outlets, and the state-controlled mass media in Belarus actively push a pro-Russian agenda. Work on unifying the tax legislation of the two countries continues – last year Belarus and Russia signed an agreement on the general principles of indirect taxation.
It would not be stretching things too far to call this a “road map for the destruction of the Belarusians as a nation”. This is precisely what Russia is striving for—beginning with complete russification and the formation of a “common scientific, technological and information space”, and ending with the creation of the institutions of a Union state. Judging by the plan, the intention may be to create a USSR 2.0 with Moscow at its centre. Minsk would then be relegated to the role of a satellite with virtually no influence. Even if Belarus remains formally independent, it will not have any real sovereignty.
There has been no attempt on the part of the Belarusian regime to avert this scenario. On the contrary, the Belarusian authorities are assisting the Kremlin by eradicating any manifestation of national identity. In parallel with this, official Minsk is being drawn ever deeper into integrational projects with the Russian Federation and so depriving itself of the few remaining opportunities to avoid absorption. Perhaps the regime hopes to somehow “remove its head from the noose” in the future, as it has been able to do in the past, but its chances of success fade inexorably with each newly signed “union programme”.
In the present circumstances, any action, voluntary or involuntary, that plays into Moscow’s hands must be qualified as high treason. The Kremlin’s programme is also a test of Belarusian politicians’ maturity. There are now few ways open to tear the country away from Russia’s stifling embrace. As Svetlana Tikhanovskaya emphasises, Belarus must leave the Union state, all military agreements with the Russian Federation, and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. All agreements between the Lukashenko regime and Russia that were signed after the 2020 elections must be repudiated. All economic deals with Russia must be reviewed with regard to how they accord with the national interests of Belarus. It is no accident that all these economic measures are included in the Russian plan’s list of probable risks that can thwart the Kremlin’s stated aims. After the publication of the plan there can be no doubt that Moscow’s intention to swallow Belarus is not a hypothesis or mere speculation, but a real and very dangerous threat.