A previously unreported Kremlin strategy document purports to lay out in detail Russia’s plans to absorb neighboring Belarus by 2030, U.S. and European media reported Tuesday.
The 2021 Russian presidential administration paper spells out Minsk’s political, military, defense, humanitarian, trade and economic integration with Moscow as part of a so-called “Union State,” according to Yahoo News.
Russia’s domestic, foreign and military intelligence services (the FSB, SVR and GRU, respectively) “actively contributed to the Union State plan,” the news site said, citing an unnamed Western intelligence officer with direct knowledge of the document.
And despite Russia’s military intervention in neighboring Ukraine and the Belarusian leadership’s evident resistance to an all-out merger, Yahoo News quoted the Western officer as saying:
“The long-term goal to achieve total control over Belarus is still in force and hasn’t changed.”
“Russia is aware that Belarus is trying to torpedo these processes,” the officer added. “Neither the politicians nor the local oligarchs have a desire to join the Union State.
“Some of that is visible publicly, for example dragging out the political integration process. Russia continues to pressure Belarus regardless.”
Belarus acted as a launchpad for Russia’s nearly year-long invasion of Ukraine but its own troops have not been directly involved in the war.
The leaked document reportedly outlines Russia’s military expansion in Belarus with a joint command system and Russian weapons depots.
The two-part document lists Russia’s short-, mid- and long-term goals in the first section and identifies potential risks in the second, according to Yahoo News.
The strategy was reportedly compiled by Presidential Directorate for Cross-Border Cooperation head Alexei Filatov and presented to his superior, the presidential administration's deputy chief Dmitry Kozak, in the fall of 2021.
One of its stated goals — holding constitutional reforms based on Russia’s priorities — has already taken place in 2022, when Lukashenko held a referendum that was described as conciliatory to Putin.
Yahoo News said it obtained the document with a consortium of international investigative journalists. They include German, Swedish, Polish, Estonian and Ukrainian media organizations, as well as a Belarusian investigative outlet and the Russian-language Dossier Center investigative website.