The situation of the Lukashenka regime is dependent on the Kremlin’s success in the war against Ukraine
Lukashenka hopes that Russian financial support will help to mitigate the impact of international sanctions and maintain the stability of Belarus’ finances. in 2022, the Kremlin allowed Belarus to postpone repayment of its debts to Russia; the two countries reached an agreement on new loans to finance various import substitution projects in Belarus and an agreement on transport corridors for the export of Belarusian goods. Simultaneously, Minsk tries to step up its economic relations with China; however, with no significant results so far.
The Kremlin is interested in gradually increasing Belarus’ dependence, mostly by developing the union state project. In November 2021, the countries signed an agreement on 28 Union State programmes, which envisage common indirect tax collection rules and the unification of various regulations pertaining to state finances. Negotiations on the development of the Union State for the period of 2024–2026 are likely to start in 2023. Just as previously, the Kremlin highly likely will raise demands for political integration, which encompasses the establishment of supranational institutions or adoption of common currency. The Kremlin might not consider these projects as a vital necessity but will stick to the demand for establishing such institutions more as leverage against Belarus.
With Moscow’s continued failures in Ukraine and growing economic losses due to Western sanctions, it is highly likely that the Kremlin’s financial capacity to support the Lukashenka regime will gradually diminish. Therefore, it is likely that in the near term, the Kremlin will not force Lukashenka to agree to a form of cooperation that is not acceptable to him, such as political integration of the two countries. Such demands would increase Lukashenka’s distrust in the Kremlin, which is not beneficial for Putin while the war against Ukraine continues.