Posted: 23.02.2024 15:52:00

Opinion: Belarus, Russia moving to new strategic level of relations

Over the past two years, Belarus and Russia have passed a path that would have taken decades before. In 2019, the bilateral trade turnover stood at $33.3bn, and it made $29.5bn in 2020. In 2021, the figure reached $40bn, and it increased to $50bn in 2022. The results of the past year are particularly encouraging: the historical maximum in trade in goods and services was reached: almost $54bn. The aggravation of the situation in the world and around the both states has inspired integration, and the upgrade of the Union State agreements has already borne fruit. Aleksei Avdonin, an expert of the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies, commented on the issue.

“Previously, Western sanctions acted as a certain incentive to re-evaluate the capabilities, and it was manifested by the activation of the domestic industrial potential of the two allies. At present, not only the replacement of the most important industries is in mind: the countries are moving to a new strategic level and determining the effectiveness of the implementation of industrial co-operation and import substitution programmes. GDP and industry are growing, and co-ordinated import substitution programmes are gaining momentum (there are already two and a half dozen). Mechanical engineering is of special interest, and – due to the Belarusian capabilities – Russia is currently solving difficult issues. The Union State aims to eliminate at all costs everything that hinders the mutual supply of goods, to equalise conditions for enterprises, to eliminate barriers in the field of public procurement and to remove restrictions on the transit of products. These are not new topics in bilateral co-operation. There are still enough rough edges, and specific solutions are needed. As Belarus’ President Aleksandr Lukashenko noted, the most important issues – the creation of common markets for gas, oil and petroleum products – have not yet been fully settled, but certain agreements have been reached at the level of heads of state, and the governments need to implement them more actively. Breakthrough projects and new ideas are also expected from the regions, which once became the most active catalyst of the Belarusian-Russian relations. Last year, Belarus welcomed three and a half dozen delegations from different regions of Russia, and Vitebsk will host the traditional Forum of Regions this summer," the expert noted.