This analytical publication reviews the current level of military integration between Russia and Belarus, assesses its potential and the main factors influencing the dynamics of integration. The presidential election in Belarus in 2020 lead to a fundamental change in the attitude of the ruling regime towards the creation of a common defence space, and its formation gained momentum.
Durability of the Belarusian-Russian military union and scenarios of its dynamics
The first part of the publication explains how the potential of the alliance is formed. Key indicators: continuous exercises and training are conducted, joint programmes in the areas of standardisation and interoperability are carried out, and joint military elements that strengthen the sustainability and robustness of integration are created.The armed forces are becoming interoperable and capable of fulfilling common tasks. The only questionable point is the practical use of military forces because the two states do not participate in joint combat operations.
The second part notes that so far the states have not agreed on a renewed military doctrine of the Union State and the aspects of joint command and the establishment of a military air base in Belarus remain unresolved. Military threats are also assessed. Although the likelihood of a direct military confrontation between NATO and Belarusian/Russian forces is extremely low, various provocations and incidents in the border section should not be ruled out.
The third part discusses three scenarios for the military integration of Russia and Belaus. It is concluded that the military integration of the two states is strengthening, and Lithuanian policy faces a value dilemma – pressure on the existing regime encourages Belarus to move further into the sphere of influence of the Russian Federation, but policy adjustments and concessions would indicate political recognition of the existing regime. In the short term, it is recommended to develop mechanisms for response, transparency and exchange of military information, and in the long term, it is recommended to focus on the transformation of the Belarusian security sector, which may oppose the inclusion of the state in Russia’s orbit and for an alternative policy.