Feb 23, 2023

Leaked Document Reveals Putin’s Plans to Take Over Belarus Transcript

Leaked Document Reveals Putin's Plans to Take Over Belarus Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsBelarusLeaked Document Reveals Putin’s Plans to Take Over Belarus Transcript

According to a new document obtained by Yahoo News, Putin’s government has plans to take full control over Belarus by 2030. Read the transcript here.

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Ali Velshi (00:01):

As President Biden toured Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday, he received a stark reminder of what life is like on the ground in this country. An air raid siren went off as they do nearly every day here in Kyiv, leading to a rather tense moment for the two presidents. The New York Times later reported “The alarm on Monday morning was triggered by a Russian MIG fighter jet taking off in Belarus, which borders Ukraine to the north. A missile from a MIG fired from Belarus can hit a target in Kyiv in under 20 minutes.” And that proximity to Ukraine, as well as Russia, puts Belarus in a unique situation. Unlike most of its neighbors after the fall of the Soviet Union, Belarus grew closer to Russia. Putin in turn sees Belarus and Ukraine as rightfully belonging to Russia. Both countries were previously integrated into the USSR, and the Kremlin desperately wants to restore that empire.

Now, these days, Putin is trying to strengthen those ties by attempting to lure Belarus into this war with Ukraine, meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko just last week. But we have just learned that Putin’s plans for the small country don’t end there. According to a document obtained by Yahoo News, which has not been independently verified by NBC News, Putin’s government has plans to take full control over Belarus within a few years. “According to the document issued in the fall of 2021, the end goal is the formation of a so-called Union State of Russia and Belarus by no later than 2030.” Michael Weiss broke this story for Yahoo News. He’s also the host of Foreign Office, a podcast on intelligence and international security produced by The Free Russia Foundation and New Lines Magazine. He joins me now, Michael. Good to have you here. What exactly does this document tell us about Russia’s plans for Belarus?

Michael Weiss (01:52):

Well, Ali, it’s important to remember since the mid 1990s, the Union State concept has existed and was indeed certified in the form of a treaty between Russia and Belarus. But it never really picked up steam, it was never fully implemented until around 2018 when Putin, as we know, had deep [inaudible 00:02:09] ambitions for all of Europe. This is four years after the annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of a Russian backed and underwritten dirty war in Donbas, Eastern Ukraine. This document, as you mentioned, was written by the presidential administration itself. This is Putin’s inner sanctum. This is essentially kind of the White House, and not just the Presidential administration, but the presidential directorate for cross-border cooperation, which is a rather Orwellian name for what it really means, which is Russia’s ability to project power and to do influence operations, if not as in the case of Belarus, try to mount some kind of creeping annexation of a next door neighbor.

So the countries under the purview of that directorate include all Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova. So with Ukraine, as we’re seeing unfold, as you you’re seeing right there from Kyiv, this is an ongoing war of conquest, an attempt to an reannex this country to whatever Putin’s idea of a renascent Russian empire through fire and steel. With respect to Belarus, one could argue it has already been a de facto vasal state of Russia for many, many years, since 2020 when Alexander Lukashenko brutally suppressed a pro-democracy protest movement, and according to international monitors, stolen election. He’s not the legitimate President of Belarus, according to the EU and the United States, he has had to lean on Putin even more so. He is a wholly owned subsidiary of Russia.

But he doesn’t want, according to experts, we consulted for this story. He doesn’t want to forfeit his sovereignty completely. So he’s finding himself in this predicament. Putin has prevailed upon him time and time again. We want Belarus to become a co-combatant in this war in Ukraine. Lukashenko has kicked the can down the street, but the real question is how long can he afford to do that? And indeed, this document suggests in just a few years time, there’s not going to be an independent state of Belarus really. This is going to be another colony of Russia.

Ali Velshi (04:06):

I want to just put that map up so that people can see this, where Belarus is. It’s west of Russia, north of Ukraine, but it borders Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, all former countries that were under Soviet influence that now border Russia. And as a result, Belarus is that much more influential in Vladimir Putin’s hopes to sort of strengthen the space between Western Europe, and NATO, and Russia.

Michael Weiss (04:35):

Absolutely. And this document calls for the integration at all levels, Ali. It talks about installing pro-Russian elements in Belarus’s elite political establishment, full military integration. So already you’ve got Russian garrison’s in Belarus. You just mentioned, they flew a MIG from Belarusian territory, posing a direct threat to Kyiv while President Biden was in the capitol. Essentially what this means is a country of about 9.3 million people will find themselves at the mercy of Putin. If he wants them to go to war, he’ll get them to go to war. His intelligence organs, domestic, foreign, and military, all had a hand, according to a Western intelligence expert we consulted for this story, in drafting this document. So what that also means is global espionage. Belarusians will be recruited to do Russian intelligence operations abroad. No doubt, they have already been recruited to some extent.

But as you mentioned, this is a country that is bordered by NATO and EU member states. So that means it poses a direct threat to international security. Should NATO, God forbid, find itself in a state of direct conflict war with Russia, Belarus is going to be, no doubt, a battleground for that war. It can intercept Polish missiles quite easily in closer proximity to NATO power. So I mean, the most forbidding set of circumstances I can describe to you is the borders of the Russian Federation territory are creeping farther and farther into Europe. And that has no bearing on the outcome of the war in Ukraine, which, as you’ve discussed at length, Putin is not winning, or at least not prosecuting as successfully as he would’ve liked.

Ali Velshi (06:11):

Yeah, and it’s worth remembering that when this invasion occurred, some of those troops came in from Belarus, and my producer Sue was just pointing out to me, it’s 60 miles from here to the Belarusian border. Michael, great reporting. Thank you for joining us with this, Michael Weiss.

Michael Weiss (06:26):

Thank you.

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