Russia and Belarus are not just friends but have a fraternal bond. That’s according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who rubbished claims from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that Minsk has no pals on the world stage.
Speaking to the press, Peskov said that Lukashenko’s statement “can hardly apply to Russia” as they are members of the same Union State.
“Rather, we are not friends, but brothers,” he clarified.
The Union State agreement, signed in 1999, officially linked the two nations with the goal of greater political, economic and social integration. However, in the years since, many of its proposals have not been realized. According to the treaty’s text, the nations planned to create a joint parliament, currency, court and cabinet.
On Saturday, a poll published by the state-run BelTA media agency revealed that 72.9% of Belarusians believe security and stability is the most important thing, with sovereignty and independence in 2nd place (57.3%). According to Lukashenko, this is entirely expected, as Belarus is completely isolated.
“The fact that people put security and stability in the first place was not unexpected to me,” he said. “I’ve said it before. Our people, after looking at the horror of last year, realized what they could lose.”
“Pay attention to my phrase: we have no friends in the world,” he concluded.
Lukashenko was referring to last summer’s protests following the 2020 presidential election. According to official results, Lukashenko earned 80% of the vote and won a sixth term in power. However, the country’s opposition believes the election was falsified, with some saying opposition figurehead Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was the true victor. For multiple weekends, thousands of people took to the streets to demonstrate.
In response to the election results and the crackdown by law enforcement, Belarus has been targeted for sanctions by the European Union, the US and the UK, with multiple officials being placed under economic restrictions.
In September, following speculation that Belarus and Russia could unify following a visit of Lukashenko to the resort city of Sochi, Peskov called the suggestion “absolute nonsense.” Despite the friendly nature of relations between Moscow and Minsk, the idea of unification does not appear to have support from the majority of Russian people. A poll that month by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (WCIOM) revealed that only 17% of respondents stated that Belarus should become part of Russia.
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