Sunday, February 28, 2021

Alexander Lukashenka asks the Kremlin for another loan. In Sochi, he met with Vladimir Putin


The presidents of Russia and Belarus spend the entire Monday in Sochi together. The plans, apart from official talks, also include skiing.

A few days before the scheduled meeting, the head of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vladimir Maki, announced that the main topics to be dealt with by the leaders of both countries would be integration and a new loan for Belarus. The Belarusian authorities are going to use another loan from Russia for the construction of a nuclear power plant.

In turn, the official website of the Kremlin published information that during the talks “special attention” will be devoted to large, joint trade projects as well as humanitarian and cultural activities. But the leaders of both countries are also to consider continuing activities aimed at integrating the states. When asked for details, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, only said that Putin’s meeting with Lukashenka would be long, because both “have something to talk about.”

Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenka in Sochi, February 22, 2021. Alexei Druzhinin / AP

Vladimir Putin spoke about Russian-Belarusian relations before the meeting with Alexander Lukashenka. The Russian leader, who has recently been struggling with similar problems and accusations from the EU and the US as Lukashenka, emphasized that Moscow and Minsk have a lot in common.

– Not a day goes by when Russian and Belarusian politicians or specialists do not contact each other and solve problems together. I am pleased to note that the level of cooperation and the strategic partnership we are talking about is really being confirmed and checked every day – said Putin.

In turn, Alexander Lukashenka argued that the fact that both presidents attended the meeting in informal costumes proves the proximity of Russia and Belarus. The leader of Russia was wearing a light blue sports jacket, while the leader of Belarus was wearing a checked jacket. – The two of us in any outfit can raise serious topics – assured Alexander Lukashenka.

Financial assistance? Putin: It is not the most important thing

During the first part of the meeting, the presidents discussed the economic situation and the coronavirus pandemic. Alexander Lukashenka said he was convinced that the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, which is also vaccinated by Belarusians, is the most effective in the world. He also announced that Belarus was “following in Russia’s footsteps” and would have its own vaccine in the fall.

The Belarusian leader also took the opportunity to thank Russia for the financial assistance provided, and at the same time assured that “the money was not thoughtlessly wasted”.

Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenka in Sochi, February 22, 2021.Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenka in Sochi, February 22, 2021. Alexei Druzhinin / AP

An anonymous source from Kommersant said that Alexander Lukashenka was to apply for another loan of $ 3 billion. Whether this happened – it is not known, but Putin’s reaction to the thanks for financial aid indicates that Minsk may not necessarily count on this money. – Aleksander Grigoriewicz, you mentioned financial support. You are right, it is important, but certainly not the most important thing. The most important thing is to work together, concluded Putin.

A loan at the price of the Russian base?

The topic of integration returned at the meeting. According to Lukashenka’s statements, both governments are working on the so-called road cards, which were not signed in 2019, min. due to differences of opinion on oil, gas, tax policy and the unified currency. Russian and Belarusian specialists are now working on these most sensitive topics. The other road cards, the signing of which is related to the integration of Russia and Belarus, as Lukashenka assured, are already prepared.

Political scientist Yuriy Chausov, when asked about the real reason for Lukashenka’s visit to Russia, explains: “Credit and money are really needed now for Lukashenka, so the reason for his visit is no secret. What we do not know are the conditions for receiving it and how much Lukashenka is willing to get this money from Putin. It is possible that the Russian military base in Belarus will prove to be the bargaining chip, as a complement to the two existing facilities ”.





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