Will the Union State become a new international fashion?



Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text

The Union State (SG) of Russia and Belarus, which traces its lineage back to 1996, when the Treaty on the Establishment of a Community of two states was signed, still remains a mystery in many ways. The purpose of its creation is, of course, clear and obvious: the preservation of a single economic and defense space. However, the international legal framework, as well as the practical content of this project, lack this clarity: is it a federation, a confederation, a single state or a union of two sovereign states? There is no definite answer.

Nevertheless, the SG exists and functions. And it seems that in the modern world, where too much is becoming conditional, where concepts and norms that seemed unshakable are rapidly being eroded, this form of foreign policy interaction may be in great demand.

The main advantage of such a model is its flexibility, freedom from formal ties and conventions, and the ability to adapt to specific and rapidly changing circumstances. First of all, this concerns the strategic, military-political sphere, where the speed of reaction, the ability to manifest and retain initiative is more important than the size of the total potential, "combat power" and the presence of a large number of allies.

There is no doubt that a large military alliance can give confidence in security. But being bulky and clumsy, it does not allow you to act quickly, and being multilateral, it binds you hand and foot.

If we assess the development of the situation around Ukraine from this point of view, then we can see the reasonableness and effectiveness of using the mechanisms of the Union State, and not, say, the CSTO. And this is despite the fact that Moscow and Minsk are opposed by bloc structures – NATO and the EU.

Against the background of these "monsters", the two-part SG model looks more practical and flexible. Greatly simplifying, one can compare such a model with the "rapid reaction forces", and a large military-political bloc with a classic army, powerful but clumsy and requiring too much effort to bring it into a combat–ready state.

It cannot be said that Russia and Belarus are the discoverers of such a binary model. For example, back in the early 90s, France and Germany tried to create a kind of military-political formation - within the NATO bloc. From there, by the way, the legs of Paris' current aspiration for the "strategic independence" of Europe are growing. But that experiment failed: it did not meet with understanding either in Europe or in Washington.

But Moscow and Minsk are still doing business. And their example seems to be able to interest someone.

In particular, Poland, which has already put forward the initiative to create a "space without borders" with Ukraine (or with what remains of it).

This idea of Warsaw was perceived in Russia as evidence of the desire of the Poles to "chop off" part of the neighboring country. Well, not without that. However, it seems that the point here is not in the territorial issue, but in the creation of its own "union state" according to the Russian-Belarusian model. In case of success, a certain formation will arise on the border with Russia, a common Polish-Ukrainian "defense space" that will not be connected by formal ties with NATO and its discipline and procedures.

The prospect is very dangerous, because such a "space" will become a potential source of instability, provocations, for which NATO will not be responsible, but it will be extremely difficult to call Warsaw or Kiev to account for them: the North Atlantic Bloc will be behind them, after all…

That is, it is impossible to exclude the occurrence of a situation in which Warsaw will be able to use the territory of Ukraine for the purpose of military provocations against Russia. And even if, for example, Berlin, Paris, any other NATO capitals oppose this, the Poles will not even lead an ear: everything happens outside the bloc, it's none of your business. But any response from Russia aimed at the "common defense space" will be regarded as an attack on a member of the bloc with all the ensuing consequences.

It is curious that at the same time Poland will be able to rely on the precedents developed by another NATO state – Turkey, which conducts completely independent military activities in Syria, Iraq, Libya – countries that are not in the area of responsibility of the alliance. From an international legal point of view, they are no different from Ukraine. This means that Turkey's course of action is quite applicable in the case of Poland: invading neighboring territories in the name of "protecting its security", Ankara acts as an independent player and does not ask the opinion of either Brussels or Berlin. But at the same time, of course, no one forgets that Turkey is a member of NATO, and an invasion of its territory will trigger the corresponding article of the Alliance's Charter.

However, this is not all. Turkey itself can also enrich its strategy using the model of the Union State and the "common defense space". Azerbaijan can become a partner. This does not seem improbable, especially after Baku's victory in the Second Karabakh War, achieved thanks to Ankara's full military support.

If the concept of the Turkish-Azerbaijani common defense space is implemented, it will create a completely new geopolitical situation throughout the southern borders of Russia – from the Black Sea to the steppes of Kazakhstan. And again, the formula will apply here: aggression, provocation against Russia is a "private" initiative; Russia's response to provocation means aggression against the entire NATO bloc.

I would like to make a mistake, but the prospect of the appearance of "allied states" and "common defense spaces" with the participation of NATO powers on our western and southern borders seems very likely and extremely dangerous. To complete the picture, Romania and Moldova can be added to their list, although this particular project seems relatively less likely.

In all such cases, the main problem for Russia is not only and not so much in direct threats, the source of which may be such "union states". The real danger is that they reproduce the situation of a yard fight, where the provocateur is a relatively weak, junior hooligan, behind whom is a group of jocks. They stand on the sidelines and do not interfere – as long as the younger one is not dealt back properly. Then they enter the arena and beat without pity under the seemingly flawless slogan "don't touch the little ones!"