In November I wrote that Putin had a strategy to unite parts of the old Russian Empire/Soviet Union. I said that this strategy was central to his willingness to step down as President of Russia. It appears that I was correct. Final stages high level talks are now taking place in the Belarusian capital of Minsk between Russian President Vladmir Putin and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.
These talks will result in a new state, one that units Russia and Belarus. Vladmir Putin will be the leader of the new state and Lukashenko will hold a senior position, some say as Speaker of the new joint Parliament, others say as Vice-President. It has not been announced yet if the new state will be a republic, with Belarus and Russia as two 'republics' under the one joint state republic (the Soviet Union had many republics and some of the republics had republics of their own and this continues today in Russia's governmental organization), or if the Russian Empire will be restored. If the makeup of the new state is a republic it could later be changed to an Empire.
In November I wrote the following:
"Putin has made it very clear that in his opinion the break-up of the Soviet Union was a very great historical tragedy. The twin centers of the Russian soul throughout many hundreds years of its history was the Russion Orthodox Church and the Tsars. The Soviet Revolution overthrew the Romanov Dynasty and as much as possible, sought to destroy the ancient Orthodox faith of the Russian people. Vladimir Putin has been a very strong supporter of the Russian Orthodox Church, and any traveling in Russia will show one just how significant the re-flowering of the ancient faith is. The old Imperial Family is well respected in Russia, and the Russian Orthodox Church has made saints out of the last Tsar and his murdered family. However, there is no great demand for an Imperial Restoration. Putin himself is the one most admired in polls of the Russian people.
So why would Vladimir Putin want to bring back the Romanovs, if only in a ceremonial Head of State role? Belarus and the Ukraine are two reasons, as are various other now separated republics of the former Soviet Union. When Yeltsin buried the Soviet Union, the leaders of the various major republics in the old USSR took the opportunities presented to them and took full power for themselves within their republics. It is easy to turn an aquarium into fish soup but very hard to turn that fish soup back into an aquarium. Putin seeks to restore Russia to its proper power and place among nations. One of the central problems in doing this is to get the various former parts of the old Russian Empire/USSR to agree to come back fully into Russia's tent. Even Belarus, the republic closest to Mother Russia has failed to merge itself back into Russia. It has, however, formed a very close union with Russia.
By replacing the current Russian Constitution with one that restores the Romanov Dynasty as Emperors/Tsars Putin can in one action, both continue the restoration of traditional Russian culture and pride AND establish a transnational Empire to gather Russia's former nations together, limitedly at first but more intensively as time goes on. The Russia-Belarus Union could become the reborn Russian Empire with HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimorovna as the new Empress over both nations. Of course, she (as Empress and Head of State) would have limited power and that would be largely dictated by the Russian Head of Government. The Belarus political class would still have their independence ~ more or less, certainly less over time ~ and Russia would have a powerful tool to begin the reuniting of the Russian Empire/USSR, which was broken apart only a few years ago. The Ukraine will be an early target, as well several other former republics. At first the new Empress Maria will simply be a tool for a more in-depth union of Russia and Belarus but the strategy will be to expand the renewed Russian Empire and to expand Russian central governmental influence over the various national parts of the Empire including greater military "cooperation". Russia's new wealth, based on its oil and natural gas holdings, will be utilized to grease the way for putting back together most of the land mass that the Tsars and Soviets ruled.
Look for Vladimir Putin to fill the role of Head of Government in the Kremlin and the new Empress to reign in the old Imperial capitol of St. Petersburg bringing new life to Putin's favorite Russian city (his hometown) and the fantastic Russian showcase Winter Palace, as well as the palaces in Tsarskoe Selo. This will allow him to remain as leader of Russia, while allowing a new ceremonial Head of State in order to continue his strategy of both restoring historic Russia, and to ensuring its status as a leading great power in the Twenty-First Century."
I now expect that the new state, wither or not it begins as a restoration of the Russian Empire or is called something else for a time being, will have a joint capital at St. Petersburg. If Putin rules from here, it would complicate things. His successor as President of the 'Russian Republic' would have the Kremlin to use as his headquarters and that is too historically important. So it makes sense to have a separate joint Head of State for the new union in St. Petersburg with the joint Head of Government in Moscow in the Kremlin. The 'Republic' of Russia's Head of Government could use the White House building that was used during the late stages of the Soviet Union by Yeltsin when he was President of the Republic of Russian under the USSR.
The reasons for an Imperial Restoration are several fold. From the Russian view it would be a restoration of the historic and proper Russian nation state. It would also bring back a figurehead as Head of State/Empress of the new joint state, but one whose family ruled over all of the former Russian Empire. This is important because the union between Russia and Belarus is just the beginning. Putin intends to bring as many nations back into the Russian Empire as possible in the years ahead....this is his long term strategic goal. He is rebuilding the Russian Empire/Soviet Union (without communism) and the Romanov family will be a useful tool, but make no mistake, he will be the one whose hands control the levers of power in the renewed Empire.