We all know about the Russian dictator’s plans with Ukraine. In his quest to annex Ukraine, Putin has utilized a revisionist history that bemoans the lost glory of the Soviet Union.
For Putin, as was the case for other dictators before him, it is shameful to live in the shadow of this lost empire.
It’s no surprise he feels this way. Much of Russia is in a state of disrepair. As someone who was raised in rural Slovakia, I have seen what post-communist societies look like. However, Slovakia has managed to rebuild and replace many of the buildings that needed repairing.
That is not the case in Russia.
However, Putin focuses not on Russia’s roads, bridges, or public schools. His visions are grand. They have more to do with two of the most celebrated Soviet republics: Ukraine and Belarus.
Let me explain.
Presently, Putin has revealed the extent of his plan to annex the entirety of Ukraine. The most aggressive parts of this plan were exposed in 2013 during what Ukrainians call the “Maidan Revolution” (or Revolution of Dignity) when he unequivocally supported then-Ukrainian President and kleptocrat, Viktor Yanukovych.
In response to the chaos in the country, he annexed Crimea in 2014 — a peninsula that was originally added to the Russian empire by Catherine the Great from the Ottomans.
Relations with Belarus were not exactly ideal for Putin in 2014, since Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko made it clear to Putin that he disagreed with the annexation.
As a result, we should not be under any illusion that the convenient alliance between Belarus and Russia is anything more than Lukashenko’s opportunism and grifting since he is isolated from his other largest trading partner — the European Union.
Due to the annexation, Belarus lost up to $3 billion in foreign exchange fluctuations because of Western sanctions imposed on Russia in the immediate aftermath of 2014 — a large trade partner with Belarus.
The well-being of your economy largely depends on the well-being of your neighbor’s economy.
Regardless, what Lukashenko might be unwilling to admit is that Belarus is also an…