Can we assume that Lukashenka built relations with Putin like this: a training ground for Russia in exchange for sovereignty?
First of all, Lukashenka does not receive sovereignty, which is just shrinking due to the fact that the country has become a testing ground, but a considerable portion of political and economic support. Putin stabilizes his internal position. Everyone understands that any protests against Lukashenka will stumble not only on the Belarusian power machine, but also on the Russian one. Plus, cheap oil and gas, as well as access to Russian markets for Belarusian sanctioned products. The sovereignty of Belarus is not a priority for Putin now. It is enough for him that Belarus is a loyal ally that gives everything that the Kremlin demands or asks of it.
Why did Lavrov and Shoigu come with Putin to Minsk?
We have no signs of breakthrough agreements either along the Lavrov or Shoigu lines. Shoigu had flown to Minsk before, and they signed a protocol with the Belarusian Ministry of Defense, changing one of the previous agreements, so I don’t see a special new role here. Perhaps we will find out something in the coming days. So far there is little information on this.
Lukashenko refused to participate in the war with Ukraine?
There is no evidence that Putin asked Lukashenka to participate in the war with him in full. We are captivated by these narratives that Lukashenka is resisting, and Putin is putting pressure on him. In fact, there is not a single evidence of such an alignment, and there is not a single sign of pressure. There are a lot of signs that the reverse process is happening - Putin is pleased with what Lukashenka is doing and regularly rewards him with some new portions of economic support. These are oil becoming cheaper for Belarus, fixed gas prices for three years, new loans and restructuring of old ones, access to Russian import substitution. All this does not look like a campaign of pressure and coercion.
Will the Belarusian authorities and legislation be integrated into the system of the Russian Federation?
There is a harmonization of legislation, which was signed a year ago. This was called the Union Programs of Belarus and Russia - a decree that approves 28 integration programs, where the legislations of the two countries converge. This is not a takeover or the creation of common organs, none of this is spelled out there. The bodies that are created there are advisory in nature, except for the joint Tax Committee, which has no power, in fact, and the votes are divided equally. Where this will go is unclear. It depends on how long Putin will be willing to pay for this process, how long the war will go on and how long Putin will be in power in Russia. The process will continue, but not with the intensity that is expected. It is unlikely that Putin will sign any breakthrough document in integration. This is against the interests of Lukashenka, who will butt heads for his power.
What does Lukashenka's statement mean that Belarus was able to reduce the impact of sanctions on Russia?
Belarus cannot reduce the impact of sanctions on Russia. Lukashenka simply said this in the format of on-duty rhetoric. Do not treat this as some important political signal.