There are two former Soviet Republics that stand above the rest: Ukraine and Belarus.
Presently, Putin is well in his plan to annex the entirety of Ukraine. He started this plan in 2013 when he unequivocally supported the then-Ukrainian President and kleptocrat, Viktor Yanukovych, and by annexing Crimea in 2014.
Relations with Belarus were not exactly ideal for Putin at the time, since the Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko made it clear to him that he disagreed with the annexation.
We should not be under any illusion then that the convenient alliance between Belarus and Russia is anything more than Lukashenko’s opportunism and grifting since he is isolated from the EU, and thus the West.
Putin wants Belarus and he plans to take it in the same way he has planned to grab Ukraine for himself.
Let me explain.
Russia has had a trajectory in assimilating regions (or oblasts) which is fairly easy to trace.
They first censor disagreement with Russia in the region they wish to occupy by promoting misinformation and disinformation.
Then they establish a common currency, or promote their currency, the Ruble. Along with this, they hand out Russian passports to make it easy for residents of the region to look for employment in Russia — often, when it comes to these cases in Eastern Europe, with more economic advantages than seen domestically.
And finally, they assimilate the region they wish to occupy through language, media, and employment.
More recently, Lukashenko likes to talk about friendship, comradery, and brotherhood between Belarus and Russia. But this was not always the case. In fact, Lukashenko has been adamantly opposed to Putin’s logic in annexing Crimea from Ukraine.
A Brief History of Lukashenko & Putin’s “Friendship”
The truth is that many forget now that Lukashenko was highly critical of Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
He argued that using Putin’s logic to defend his annexation, Pskov and Smolensk in Russia should belong to Belarus.