Ready to merge with Russia, says Belarus president; is there an electoral plan behind this idea?
Moscow, Feb 18: Russia's relationship with Ukraine has been tense in the post-Soviet era and the West has remained apprehensive over the Kremlin's design in its neighbourhood - the countries that were once a part of the former USSR but broke away in 1991 to become independent nations.
Now, the West could be in for more shock as Belarus, another East European country and the northern neighbour to Ukraine, has shown interest to merge itself with Russia.
The country's president, Alexander Lukashenko, known to have a cordial relation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, expressed the same on the third and final day of his bilateral meeting with the latter on Friday, February 15.
Rumours surfaced this year that Moscow was looking to annex Belarus as Putin is limited by the constitution to run for presidency in 2024.
The former KGB agent is currently serving his fourth term as the president. It is being speculated that the idea of Belarus's unification with Russia could help Putin to bypass the laws restricting his presidency by forming a new nation, Newsweek reported.
"The two of us could unite tomorrow, no problem," Lukashenko said in a video shared by Komsomolskaya Pravda, a Russian tabloid on Twitter Friday.
"But are you - Russians and Belarussians - ready for it?" Lukashenko said as quoted by Interfax, the Moscow Times cited. "We're ready to unite and consolidate our efforts, states and peoples as far as we're ready."
Putin has said that "fully independent states simply do not exist in the world," citing the example of the European Union's interdependence. Putin, 64, has been speaking in favour of a unification of Russia and Belarus as early as 2011.
"The European Parliament makes more binding decisions for all members than the Supreme Soviet of the USSR once took such decisions for the Union republics. Is it not dependency?" Putin was quoted as asking.
The Russian president also said that the deployment of American military in Europe has undermined the sovereignty of the nations of that continent.
"No one wants that. But they sit, they keep quiet. Where is their sovereignty? But apparently they believe that in the ultimate, general calculation, they are interested in such an organization in which they have invested part of their sovereignty," he said.