Serhat TUNAR -TDO- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has warned Russia not to force the two countries to unite.

Lukashenko told Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy that forcing the Russian government to unite would be perceived as a threat by Western countries and that these countries would stand against Russia.

The remarks by the Belarusian President coincided with a period of heightened political tension between the two former USSR member states.

As it is known, Russia and Belarus signed the Unity State agreement in 1997. This agreement provides for close political, economic and military cooperation between the two countries, but does not include full unification.

The Russian side is striving to further deepen relations and harmony between the two allied states. Alexander Lukashenko, who has not established close relations with Western countries, has been trying to keep his country afloat with loans and cheap energy from Russia during his 25-year tenure. But the Kremlin has stepped up pressure on Minsk in the recent past, raising energy prices and also reducing the subsidies it provides.

Russia has indirectly communicated to the Lukashenko government that Belarus must accept closer economic integration with Russia if it wants to continue buying energy at a low price.

However, citizens of both countries are known to strongly oppose the idea of a single state.

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