The landlocked country in Eastern Europe, Belarus, is a partner with the largest country in the world – Russia, in the matters of politics and economy. The two countries established a super national Union State of Russia and Belarus, wherein better political, economic, and social integration is witnessed. This ensured that even the education, employment and medical care in two countries be helped with.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, numerous independent states were formed which Russia tried to bring under its control. The breakup of the large political block, had created tensions in Russia, as they feared that the western powers will isolate their country by reinforcing control over the newly formed Republics. Thus, it seemed more crucial for Russia to form an integration with Belarus.
When Alexander Lukashenko became the President of Belarus, Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a Treaty of Friendship in 1995, declaring that since two nations had a common history, a deeper friendship between the two nations would benefit to ward off the economic and military crisis. The process for the Union then emerged in April, 1996 and, a year later on April 2, 1997, ‘Treaty of Union between Belarus and Russia’ was formed.
However, political opponents in Russia were fixated regarding the reunion of the two countries. Especially, since Belarus faced economic crisis and was a lot weaker in comparison to the economically-strong Russia. When Vladimir Putin took the Russian office in 2000, he proposed that Belarus either unify with Russia or that they together be a part of a union similar to ‘European Union’. But, Belarus did not agree to any of the terms. Despite the setback, international activities like military activities of USA due to 9/11 attacks, plans to distribute missile defense system of NATO, and especially the rise of color revolutions held between 2000 to 2005, established stronger military ties between Russia and Belarus.
The union has not been bereft of disputes. Russia felt that since the full integration could cost them deeply, they decided to shift their union to attain two goals: one, reduction of the economic burden that Belarus laid and two, to take control over the energy transit infrastructure in Belarus. These have led to numerous conflicts and Gas Wars amid the two. When Ukrainian crisis emerged, Russia annexed the region of Crimea in 2014. This influenced Lukashenko to reassert Belarusian identity. He gave a speech “We are not Russians, we are Belarusians,” and that too in the Belarusian language. What proceeded were trade disputes and border disputes that weakened the relationship of the two countries.
Despite the diplomatic tensions, they have maintained strong military ties and have collaborated in joint military-scientific ventures. As of 2017, the relations between Russia and Belarus have improved following the numerous military drills.