Union State

Union State

  • Союзное государство (Russian)
  • Саюзная дзяржава (Belarusian)
Location of Union State
Headquarters8/5 Staraya Square, Entrance 3, 103132 Moscow, Russia[1]
Largest cityMoscow
55°45′N 37°37′E / 55.750°N 37.617°E / 55.750; 37.617
Official languages
TypeInternational organisation
Member states
• Chairman of the Supreme State Council
Belarus Alexander Lukashenko
• Chairman of the Council of Ministers
Russia Mikhail Mishustin
• General Secretary
Russia Grigory Rapota
LegislatureSupreme State Council
26 December 1991
• Commonwealth of Belarus and Russia
2 April 1996
• Treaty on the Creation of a Union State of Russia and Belarus
8 December 1999
• Total
17,305,841 km2 (6,681,823 sq mi)a
• 2020 estimate
Decrease 156,198,000a
• Density
8.88/km2 (23.0/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2020 estimate
• Total
Decrease $4.206 trillion[2]
GDP (nominal)2020 estimate
• Total
Decrease $1.521 trillion[2]
Time zoneUTC+2 to +12
Date formatdd.mm.yyyy
Driving sideright
www.soyuz.by Edit this at Wikidata
  1. ^ Combined Belarus and Russian numbers, excluding annexed Crimea in March 2014 that is not recognized internationally.

The Union State,[a] also referred to as the Union State of Russia and Belarus,[b] is an international organization consisting of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation.

Citizens of both parties are guaranteed the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the other party, allowing Belarusian citizens to travel freely in Russia and have the right to settle there to work or study, and vice versa.[3]

History of formation

Russian postage stamp commemorating the Treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus establishing the Union on 2 April 1996.

The Community of Belarus and Russia was founded on 2 April 1996.[4] The basis of the union was strengthened on 2 April 1997, with the signing of the "Treaty on the Union between Belarus and Russia" at which time its name was changed to the Union of Belarus and Russia.[5] Several further agreements were signed on 25 December 1998, with the intention of providing greater political, economic and social integration.[5]

Nevertheless, the nature of the political entity remained vague. Under pressure from his own political opponents, who argued for a reunion of the two states, and from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who sought to tie his excessively weak economy to Russia's stronger one, then Russian President Boris Yeltsin initiated the creation of the Union in order to harmonize the political and economic differences between the two nations.[6] According to some observers, Lukashenko's intention was also to gain great power, becoming the president of a future Russia-Belarus federation after Yeltsin's demise due to his all-time low popularity. However, after the resignation of Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin was elected in 2000 to succeed him as president of Russia, thus forcing Lukashenko to cancel his plans and keep balance between the independence of Belarus and Putin's increasing pressure for further integration among the two countries into the Union State.[7][8]

The Treaty on the Creation of a Union State of Russia and Belarus was signed on 8 December 1999.[9] The intention was to achieve a federation like the Soviet Union, with a common head of state, legislature, flag, coat of arms, anthem, constitution, army, citizenship and currency. The Union was ratified by the Russian State Duma on 22 December 1999 and the National Assembly of Belarus on 26 January 2000. On the latter date the Treaty and the Union came into effect.[10]

Then Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev had put forward a similar proposal in 1994, envisioning the founding of a Eurasian union, but this proposal was not adopted until 29 May 2014 with the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union.[11]

Institutions and legal framework

The Treaty on the Creation of a Union State has established the following institutions:[12]

  • A Supreme State Council, the highest authority in the Union State, made up of the Presidents, Prime Ministers and the heads of both chambers of the Parliaments of both countries. Each state has one vote in the Council, meaning effectively that all decisions must be unanimous.
  • A Council of Ministers, composed of the member states' Prime Ministers, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Economy, and Finance and the State Secretary of the Union.
  • A proposed bicameral Union Parliament, comprising an elected House of Representatives, which contains 75 deputies from Russia and 28 from Belarus, elected by the general populace of each, and a House of the Union with an equal number of deputies (36) from each nation selected by their respective upper legislative houses. The Union Parliament has never been put into effect.
  • A proposed Court of the Union, consisting of nine judges appointed for six-year terms. The Court of the Union was never established.
  • A House of Audit or Accounting Chamber, controlling the implementation of the budget.

Each member state retains its own sovereignty and international personality, meaning that Russia and Belarus are still fully responsible for their own internal affairs and external relations. The Union State cannot claim representation in other international organizations or overrule legislation or government decisions of its member states, except in cases specified by the Union Treaty. As such, the Union State most resembles a supranational confederation on the order of the African Union, or the Union of South American Nations.

Pavel Borodin was the first State Secretary of the Union. He was first appointed by the Supreme State Council on 26 January 2000 for a four-year term. In 2004 and 2008 his term was renewed for an additional four years, leaving office in 2011. Since then the office has been held by Grigory Rapota.


Shortly after its inauguration, both member states seemed to have lost their enthusiasm for the Union, with first Russia, and then Belarus, restoring customs controls along their common border in 2001, effectively suspending the customs union until it was restored in 2010. Plans had also been set in motion to implement a common currency across the Union, but these have been postponed several times.

On 16 November 2010, it was announced by the Union State website that the Constitutional Act was 99% ready.[13]

Common currency

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko promised to introduce a common currency on 1 January 2004. The currency was not introduced, and the plan was pushed back by one year. On 1 January 2005, the Union State again failed to introduce a common currency, and it was again postponed by one year, which, in 2006, happened once again. During a press-conference in Minsk on 2 February 2006, Pyotr Prokopovich, chief of the National Bank of Belarus, announced that a "common currency might be introduced in 2007". This, however, failed to occur in 2007. The National Bank of the Republic of Belarus announced that, starting in 2008, the Belarusian ruble would be tied to the United States dollar instead of the Russian ruble.[14]

Citizenship and freedom of migration

The Union State does provide citizens of Russia and Belarus the right to work and permanently settle in either country without formal immigration procedures otherwise mandatory for foreign nationals. They retain their national passports and other identification papers.


On 10 February 2009, Russia and Belarus implemented the first stage of joint military officer training programs designed to integrate the military structures of the countries. This military collective is called the Regional Forces Group of Belarus and Russia (RGF). The goal of these operations is to ensure cohesive training, practice and implementation of military interests for the nations, and were aimed at strategic and battle training taking place in February and March 2009.[15] Furthermore, the military doctrine of the Russian Federation provides that "an armed attack on the state-participant in the Union State, as well as all other actions involving the use of military force against it," should be deemed "an act of aggression against the Union State", authorizing Moscow to "take measures in response".[16]

Proposed symbols

Since the formation of the Union State in 1997, Belarus and Russia have thus far failed to institute any symbols or even a flag for the Union State. There have, however been several proposals for flags and coats of arms.[17][18]

Two proposals have been made for the flag of the Union. In all cases, they are modifications to the flag of the Soviet Union, but representing the state (not communism). In both cases, two gold stars are placed in the canton of the red flag (to represent the two states of the Union).[18]

A proposed coat of arms is a modification of the double-headed eagle holding the coats of arms of Russia and Belarus.[19]

A song called "Sovereign Union of Nations" (Russian: Державный союз народов Derzhavny soyuz narodov, Belarusian: Дзяржаўны саюз народаў Dzyarzhauny sayuz narodau) has been proposed as the Union's unofficial anthem. The song, which was modified from the National Anthem of the Soviet Union, refers to a wider union of the two nations.[20]

Value added tax controversy

Belarus and Russia had been collecting a value added tax (VAT), meant to finance the Union State, in the country of origin, but from 1 January 2005, VAT is collected in the country of destination, as in most other independent countries of the world. This change gave rise to a considerable degree of confusion and has disrupted many trade operations between Belarus and Russia. On 10 February 2005, private entrepreneurs in Belarus staged a one-day warning strike, protesting the new VAT scheme between the two countries and Lukashenko's economic policies.

Contemplated expansion

  •  Abkhazia and  South Ossetia both currently have observer status in parliamentary sessions.[21] In informal statements, the prime ministers of the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (which is recognised only by Russia and a few other countries) have expressed interest in joining the Union with the Spokesman of the Union reciprocating this interest. No formal requests are known so far.[22]
    The Union State (yellow), states that have expressed interest in joining the Union (green), and other members of the CIS (pink).
  •  Kazakhstan had expressed interest in forming a separate customs union with Russia and Belarus by 2010.[23] This Customs Union was formed as planned at the beginning of 2010. Kazakhstan has mentioned that it may join the Union State after some time.[23]
  •  Kyrgyzstan: As of June 2007, opposition in Kyrgyzstan, which has been locked in political turmoil, had initiated a nationwide referendum to join the union of Russia and Belarus.[24]
  •  Moldova: In 2001, president of Moldova Vladimir Voronin announced right after his election that he had plans for Moldova to join the Union of Russia and Belarus.[25][26] The coming to power of the Alliance for European Integration at the 2009 Moldovan elections has since shifted Moldovan interest towards the European Union.
  •  Transnistria: in the Transnistrian referendum of 2006 97.2% of the population voted for a union of Transnistria (which is not recognized by any nation) with the Russian Federation, which analysts say indicates a possibility that Transnistria might unilaterally ask to join the Union, once it is established. Already in spring 1998, 66.5% of Transnistrian voters supported joining the Union of Russia and Belarus in a non-binding referendum by the Transnistrian state.[27] However, not being recognised by either member, this is unlikely to happen in the near future.
  •  Ukraine: In response to speculation about Ukraine joining the Union, Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych declared that Ukraine is an independent sovereign state and this is not something that can be questioned by anyone in the government.[28] The issue is to be reconsidered in the new light of the Revolution of Dignity and the developments of the Euromaidan movement seeking for the integration into the European Union.
  •  Novorossiya: During the 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine, Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliev of the Russian-annexed Republic of Crimea expressed the hope that southeastern Ukraine would form a "Ukrainian Federation" and join the Union State.[29] However, only the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic broke away from Ukraine, and the confederate Novorossiya political project was frozen at the start of 2015.[30][31][32]
  •  FR Yugoslavia/ Serbia: In 1999 the Parliament of FR Yugoslavia voted for the country to join the Union. In 2007 Tomislav Nikolić said during a speech that he wished that Serbia would strengthen its ties with and eventually join the Union State.[33] Serbia has since submitted a membership application to the EU.

Renewed interest

GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic DevelopmentGeorgia (country)AzerbaijanUkraineMoldovaTajikistanTurkmenistanCollective Security Treaty OrganizationEurasian Economic UnionUzbekistanKyrgyzstanKazakhstanArmeniaUnion StateBelarusRussiaCommonwealth of Independent StatesCommonwealth of Independent States Free Trade AreaBaltic AssemblyLithuaniaLatviaEstoniaCommunity for Democracy and Rights of NationsTransnistriaAbkhaziaSouth OssetiaRepublic of Artsakh
Euler diagram showing the relationships among various supranational organisations in the territory of the former Soviet Unionde

On 15 December 2006, talks over the Union State were heating up.[34] By January 2007, however, talks appeared to be stalled, as President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus stated: "The Russian leadership is demanding that we join the Russian Federation—that's what is in the heads of the Russian leadership. I don't want to bury the sovereignty and independence of [Belarus]." He added: "From all the consultations and discussions, I have understood that we have different approaches and understandings of the building of a union state", and opposed "the possibility of the incorporation into Russia [of Belarus]".[35]

However, on 19 October 2007, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov announced that the budget of the Union State "will grow by no less than ten percent next year, and that growth will provide for worthy funding of our common projects." [36] This has led to speculation that the Russian government have renewed their interest in the idea.

A meeting between President Lukashenko of Belarus, President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Union State Secretary Pavel Borodin was held in Minsk 13–14 December 2007. This meeting received a considerable amount of media attention and raised speculation that a Union State might indeed be the focus of a new initiative by both governments. Of primary interest was renewed discussion of the Union Parliament (which, although planned, was never actually realized) and a Union State Constitutional Act, an instrument which could strengthen the authority of the Union. According to State Secretary Borodin, five variants of this Act were discussed at the meeting, each of which would involve a 7 to 10 year transitional period in the Union's development. Trade and energy issues were also discussed.[37]

On 27 May 2008, President Lukashenko, acting in his capacity as Chairman of the Supreme State Council named then Russian Prime Minister and current President Putin Chairman of the Council of Ministers.[38] This move raised speculation that the Union was about to undergo a significant political transformation. However, the most visible and arguably important official in the Union has been the State Secretary, who runs the Union State's day-to-day operations. In the same meeting, State Secretary Borodin announced that the 2009 Union State budget would total 6–7 billion Russian rubles, an increase of over 2 billion rubles from 2008.

On 1 August 2011, Putin stated he supported a union of Russia, Belarus, and possibly South Ossetia.[39] Belarusian Foreign Minister spokesman Andrei Savinykh rejected the idea,[40] as did Dmitri Medojev, South Ossetia's ambassador to Moscow, who stated "Our people voted for independence in a referendum in 2006 and they do not relish the idea of becoming part of the Russian Federation."[40]

Since 2015, focus on developing relations between former members of the Soviet Union is on continued development of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), itself a further development of the Eurasian Customs Union established in 2010. It is modeled on the integration of the European Union and comprises 5 member states: Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. Tajikistan has also expressed an interest in joining. However, the EAEU is only an economic union, and at present, political integration remains within the remit of the Union State.

See also


  1. ^ Russian: Сою́зное госуда́рство, IPA: [sɐˈjuznəjə ɡəsʊˈdarstvə]; Belarusian: Саю́зная дзяржа́ва, Sajuznaja dziaržava
  2. ^ Russian: Сою́зное Госуда́рство Росси́и и Беларуси, IPA: [sɐˈjuznəjə ɡəsʊˈdarstvə rɐˈsʲiɪ i bʲɪləˈrusʲɪ]; Belarusian: Саюзная дзяржава Расіі і Беларусі


  1. ^ "Постоянный Комитет Союзного государства". postkomsg.com.
  2. ^ a b "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects: October 2020". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  3. ^ "The agreement between the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation on providing the equal rights of citizens of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation on freedom of travel, the choice of the place of stay and residence in the territories of the State Parties of the Union State". cis-legislation.com.
  4. ^ Zulys, Audrius. "Toward a Union State of Russia and Belarus". Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review, 2005, p. 149 [1]
  5. ^ a b Ltd., ICB - InterConsult Bulgaria. "CEEOL - Error". ceeol.com.
  6. ^ "Boris Yeltsin's Legacy". personal.utulsa.edu.
  7. ^ "Will Belarus Be the Next Ukraine?". Foreign Affairs. 5 February 2020. Archived from the original on 6 February 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2020. Lukashenko signed on in the apparent hope that he could one day replace Yeltsin and rule over both Belarus and Russia.
  8. ^ "How Belarus Maneuvers between Russia and the West". Institute of Modern Russia. 30 April 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2020. [...] Lukashenko was pleased with the idea for other reasons: he planned to use the arrangement to ultimately replace the unpopular Yeltsin. The creation of the Union State could lead to common citizenship, which would allow Lukashenko to run for the top office in case of Yeltsin’s departure. Another reason for him to move closer to Russia was that Belarus’ highly industrialized economy relied heavily on Russian raw materials, mostly gas and oil.
  9. ^ "BBC News - EUROPE - Russia and Belarus form confederation". news.bbc.co.uk.
  10. ^ Zulys, Audrius. "Toward a Union State of Russia and Belarus", p. 151
  11. ^ Asadova, Nargiz. "An interview with Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Masimov". Originally printed in Kommersant, 4 June 2007, p. 2. Translated by Ferghana.Ru "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 June 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Ltd., ICB - InterConsult Bulgaria. "CEEOL - Error". ceeol.com.
  13. ^ "S. Shorshorov: Draft Constitutional Act is 99% Ready". Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  14. ^ "Belarus to link currency to dollar". Associated Press. 15 August 2007. Archived from the original on 22 April 2008. Retrieved 1 October 2007.
  15. ^ "Link to joint military training". Union State Website. 11 February 2009. Archived from the original on 14 August 2009. Retrieved 21 February 2009.
  16. ^ "Union State of Russia and Belarus: a military union?". Window on Heartland. 14 January 2012. Archived from the original on 8 January 2016.
  17. ^ "Проект герба Союза России и Белоруссии (2002 г.)". geraldika.ru.
  18. ^ a b "флаги союза РФ и РБ". vexillographia.ru.
  19. ^ Проект герба Союза России и Белоруссии (2002 г.). Geraldika.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 27 October 2008.
  20. ^ Державный Союз Народов (in Russian). 2003. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
  21. ^ "Belarus could recognize Abkhazia, S.Ossetia next year". en.rian.ru.
  22. ^ Abkhaz wish to join Union on YouTube
  23. ^ a b "Customs Union of Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan to be up and running by 2010". Archived from the original on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2007.
  24. ^ "Trend - Новости Азербайджана. Турция, Иран, Центральна Азия". news.trendaz.com.
  25. ^ "Moldova ready for Russia Belarus union". BBC News Online. 17 April 2001.
  26. ^ "Communists of Moldova and the future of the country's ethno-political conflicts" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 August 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2007.
  27. ^ "Transnistria or Moldavian Transnistrian Republic: Just facts". Trades Ministry of the Republic of Moldova. Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. That same year, the Tiraspol Supreme Soviet chairman declared that the Transnistrian republic will demand that Moldova accepts full integration into the CIS and that it joins the Russian Federation–Belarus union, viewed as a possible future model for the MTR's status vis-a-vis the Republic of Moldova. A non-binding referendum on joining the Russia–Belarus union was held between April and June 1998, with over 66 percent of the ballots supporting the union. However, like the province of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea (isolated from Russia by independent Lithuania and Poland), the east-bank separatist region, has no common borders with either Belarus or the Russian Federation.
  28. ^ "President makes statement regarding debates over idea of so-called union of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus". Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2010; Опыты независимой аналитики КУДА ИДЕМ МЫ С ЯНУКОВИЧЕМ?. Центр проблемного анализа и государственно-управленческого проектирования. 9 April 2010. Archived from the original on 15 March 2012.
  29. ^ Теміргалієв оголосив про швидке створення "Української Федерації" [Temirgaliyev announced the imminent creation of the "Ukrainian Federation"]. Ukrayinska Pravda. 12 April 2014.
  30. ^ "Russian-backed 'Novorossiya' breakaway movement collapses". Ukraine Today. 20 May 2015.
  31. ^ Vladimir Dergachev; Dmitriy Kirillov (20 May 2015). Проект «Новороссия» закрыт [Project "New Russia" is closed]. Gazeta.ru (in Russian).
  32. ^ "Why the Kremlin Is Shutting Down the Novorossiya Project". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  33. ^ Serbian Parliament Speaker Calls For Closer Russia Ties
  34. ^ "Unified state of Russia and Belarus discussed in Kremlin" Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, an Russia Today, 15 December 2006.
  35. ^ "Belarus local elections end" Archived 17 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine, al Jazeera, 14 January 2007.
  36. ^ Itar-Tass Archived 14 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ President meets with State Secretary of the Belarus–Russia Union State Archived 12 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ Belarusian Telegraphy Agency, "Union State budget 2009 to total RUR6–7 billion, Pavel Borodin says"
  39. ^ "Russian PM Says Unification With Belarus Possible and Desirable". Voice of America. 1 August 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
  40. ^ a b "Belarus rejects Putin's call for unification with Russia". Deutsche Welle. 4 August 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2011.

External links

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