Territory and geopolitical position of Belarus

The territory of the country, as one of the main elements of its economy, includes land, its subsoil, natural resources. The economic and geographical concept of “territory” considers the entire set of factors of production.

The territory of Belarus in the twentieth century, due to political and military upheavals, changed as follows: 1921 –
52.3 thousand km2; 1924 – 110.5 thousand km2; 1926 – 126.0 thousand km2; 1939 – 233.7 thousand km2; 1940 – 225.7 thousand km2;  from 1950 to the present – 207.6 thousand km2.

Since 1802, the core of the administrative-territorial division was made up of Mogilev, Vitebsk, Minsk, Grodno, Vilna provinces. Since 1960, the core of the administrative-territorial division has been
The divisions form the same centers, as well as the Brest and Gomel regions.

Economic and geographical position is a set of spatial relations of certain territorial and economic objects (enterprises, settlements, areas, districts, individual countries and their groups) to external objects in the presence of economic ties between the first and the latter. Geographical location in general and economic-geographical position in particular are the moment that individualizes each geographical feature. Belarus occupies a rather favorable (favorable) economic and geographical position. It is located in a long-inhabited and developed part of Europe. An important aspect of the economic and geographical location is the neighborhood. The nature of the immediate environment has a positive impact on the development of the economy of Belarus. In the north and east Belarus borders with Russia, in the north-west – with Lithuania and Latvia, in the south – with Ukraine, in the west – with Poland. For Belarus, it is vital to preserve and strengthen economic ties with Ukraine, Russia, the Baltic States, as well as the development of cooperation with other countries.

Especially important for Belarus is the neighborhood with such developed economic regions of Russia as the Central and North-Western. It is here that many machine-building, chemical, textile and other industries are concentrated, which are closely related to similar Belarusian ones. In addition, Belarus for Russia is the closest, and therefore the most economically profitable supplier of many types of products, primarily for the largest consumption centers – Moscow, St. Petersburg, etc. The role of Poland as a neighboring state is also great. The integration of Belarus into the European community largely depends on relations with it. It should be borne in mind that Poland is the state with which Belarus is closely connected historically, ethnographically and has a fairly long common border. For Belarus and Poland, it is very important in the coming years to reconstruct the main transport highways (railways and roads), which provide east-west economic ties.

Belarus is located in the center of Europe, and its “central” position plays a big role not only for itself, but also for other countries. One of the most significant aspects of this situation is transit. The border does not have pronounced natural boundaries, which led to the intersection of trade, economic and cultural routes of communication on the territory of Belarus. This circumstance has had and has a significant impact on the economic and cultural development of the republic. If we turn to history, the famous waterway “from the Varangians to the Greeks” with its branches covered almost all of Belarus. And now Belarus is located at the intersection of trans-European communication routes connecting the west and east, north and south of Europe. Of the ten trans-European transport and communication corridors, two pass directly through its territory. In addition, transport and communication corridors pass through the territory of Belarus, providing international relations of Belarus with the Baltic countries, Poland, Ukraine, and Russia. At the same time, they connect Russia with the countries of Eastern and Western Europe, Ukraine and Moldova with Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and the north-west of Russia. The shortest routes to Europe and other CIS countries – Kazakhstan, the states of Central Asia – pass through the territory of Belarus. From north to south, Belarus is crossed by important transport highways that contribute to the maintenance of economic and political ties with the Baltic countries and Ukraine. A section of the transcontinental railway crossing the whole of Eurasia from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean is laid through Belarus. Belarus is also a country through which more than 50.0% of energy supplies are carried out through main oil and gas pipelines from Russia to Western Europe. In such conditions, our country can have a great economic benefit from transit traffic. However, the location of Belarus in the center of Europe, on the watershed of the Baltic and Black Seas, should be assessed not only positively. It is on the territory of Belarus that the interests of the great states have repeatedly clashed for many centuries. Only in the last 300 years, wars such as the Northern War of 1700-1721, the Patriotic War of 1812, the First and Second World Wars brought huge losses and destruction.

When assessing the economic and geographical position of the country, it is necessary to take into account its proximity (remoteness) to the mineral resource bases. Belarus is a state that owns rather limited natural resources. At the same time, as noted above, it has the longest border with states with powerful natural resource potential. So, from Russia the republic receives the necessary amount of oil, gas, about 60.0% of coal, 55.0% of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, industrial wood and much more. Consequently, Belarus is located near the main fuel and energy bases of foreign countries, which has had and continues to have a positive impact on its historical, socio-economic development and economic activities of the population.

In general, it can be noted that the economic and geographical position of Belarus is conducive to its sustainable socio-economic development.

Characterizing the geopolitical position of the country, it should be noted that it radically changed by the 90s. This was first facilitated by the collapse of the countries of the Warsaw Pact, and then the Soviet Union. As a result, Belarus was located between the states that chose different socio-political models of development, and nato troops came to its borders in 2004.

In modern conditions, the geopolitical position of Belarus can be assessed as difficult. This is due to the fact that Belarus has a small “weight” in the world economic system and economically belongs to the category of “small” countries that do not have a significant impact on the development of world economic processes, and therefore its geopolitical position can determine the interests of larger countries. In fact, the geopolitical position determines the place of the state in the system of international relations, including not only the position in the geographical space, but also the functional role in the system of states. Therefore, when assessing the geopolitical position of the country, it is necessary to determine what functional role the country itself chooses for itself in the totality of states and what role the set of states can assign to the country. From these positions, Belarus today can play the role of a connecting bridge between the West and the East, the North and South of Europe, become a center of business and transport and communication services to European states. The geopolitical interests of the EU countries in relations with Belarus are related to the use of its favorable economic and geographical position on the shortest routes to the vast Russian markets. Russia’s geopolitical interests in relations with Belarus are determined by the fact that the shortest transport highways, export oil and gas pipelines, power lines to Western and Central-Eastern Europe pass through the territory of Belarus. Thus, Belarus as a transit state is of interest to both Russia and Europe.

The objective historical reality of the geopolitical position of Belarus today is its economic and political integration into the system of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Largely because of the advantages of its position, the capital of our country, the city of Minsk, was chosen as the location of the coordinating bodies of the Commonwealth. For most subjects of the CIS, Belarus is a kind of “window” to Europe. In addition to membership in the CIS, joining the Union State with Russia, Belarus is also an active member of the Eurasian Economic Community, formed by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in 2000 on the basis of the previously created Customs Union.

Belarus is one of the founding countries of the UN and its member since 1945, so our country seeks to actively cooperate with its organizations (EEC, UNESCO, etc.), constantly reaffirming its commitment to the principles of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Belarus openly declared the nuclear-free status of the republic: it withdrew all tactical and strategic weapons from its territory, halved the Armed Forces.

Belarus continues to take a position of constructive cooperation with such international economic financial organizations as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). In the context of strengthening world economic integration, Belarus can become a “bridge” between Europe and Asia. The experience of economic development of South Korea, China and other Asian countries is also of great interest for the economic development of Belarus.

The practical use of the geopolitical position of Belarus is facilitated by the relatively high density of international transport infrastructure in the western part of our territory. On a short length (about 350 km) there are a number of railway (Grodno, Svisloch, Berestovitsa, Vysokoye, Brest) and road (Grodno, Domanovo, Brest) border crossings. The needs of the socio-economic development of the country dictate the need to improve the transport infrastructure.

The economic, geographical and political position of individual territorial units changed after 1991.
the audience is not the same at the moment. All regions of Belarus, with the exception of Minsk, are border regions. At the same time, it should be emphasized that each of them has direct access to at least two countries (the exception is the Mogilev region, which borders only with Russia). Hence the new problems of management associated with changing the structure of commodity exchange, taking into account their orientation to cross-border contacts. In the western regions, economic ties with Poland, Germany and other European countries are already intensively developing. It was in the Brest region that the first free economic zone in Belarus “Brest” appeared and is effectively operating.

All of the above allows us to conclude that the economic, geographical and geopolitical position is an important resource for regional socio-economic development and in modern conditions for our country is of great importance.

Belarus, being at the crossroads of European routes, has good prospects for the development of economic, political and cultural ties both with the CIS countries and with the states of Europe, Asia, and other regions of the world. In the era of globalization and regionalization of the world economy, the economic, geographical and geopolitical position of Belarus is assessed as one of the most important strategic factors of its sustainable socio-economic development.