MOSCOW (AP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko on Monday for talks, as media advised the Belarusian chief was coming to Russia to safe one other mortgage.
The Kremlin gave Lukashenko financial and political help after his contested re-election in August sparked the biggest and most sustained wave of mass protests in Belarusian historical past. In September, Putin stated Moscow would grant a mortgage of $ 1.5 billion to its former Soviet neighbor.
Earlier this month, the Kommersant newspaper quoted authorities sources as saying that one other mortgage, this time over $ 3 billion, could be mentioned throughout Lukashenko’s go to to Russia. The Belarusian chief denied the data final week and stated he “was not going there to ask for something”.
The 2 leaders met in Sochi, Russia’s Black Sea resort. Briefly remarks earlier than the beginning of their talks, they underscored the shut financial and cultural ties between the 2 nations.
Putin pressured that Russia stays Belarus’ principal commerce and financial associate. Lukashenko thanked Moscow for its financial help, including that the funds invested within the Belarusian economic system had been nicely spent.
Lukashenko additionally praised Russia’s Spuntik V coronavirus vaccine, the primary batch of which arrived in Belarus in December after the previous Soviet nation turned the second nation after Russia to provide regulatory approval for the shot. He stated manufacturing of Sputnik V would begin in Belarus in March and added that Belarus would develop its personal vaccine in opposition to the coronavirus by the autumn.
Russia and Belarus have a union treaty offering for shut political, financial and navy ties, however they’ve usually engaged in acrimonious conflicts. Previous to the August 9 elections in Belarus, Lukashenko repeatedly accused the Kremlin of pressuring Belarus to surrender its independence.
However with the US and the EU criticizing the Belarusian presidential election and imposing sanctions on Belarus, Lukashenko has needed to rely squarely on Russian help.
Regardless of previous frictions, the Kremlin hates the prospect of public protests forcing the Belarusian chief’s resignation, fearing that this might embolden Putin’s criticism at house.