Posted: 28.05.2024 09:05:37

Minsk and Moscow remain committed to strengthening integration

The hours-long talks between President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko and President of Russia Vladimir Putin have confirmed that the relations between the two countries are fraternal and aimed at strategic partnership

The Russian head of state arrived in Belarus on a two-day official visit, in the course of which the leaders of the two countries worked and talked for 14 hours


The first round of talks between the leaders of the two countries was held on Thursday, May 23rd, upon Vladimir Putin’s arrival in Minsk. Aleksandr Lukashenko personally met his Russian counterpart at the airport, where closer to midnight, the presidents outlined the negotiation agenda in the presence of journalists and declared their intention to primarily discuss security issues, including joint exercises on the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons.
On Friday, May 24th, the presidents mainly discussed economic topics. Vladimir Putin arrived at the Palace of Independence in the afternoon, immediately after the wreath-laying ceremony at the Victory Monument. The distinguished guest was solemnly greeted by a military orchestra, the performance of the anthems of the two countries, the march of the honour guard company. After the traditional joint photographing ceremony, a conversation took place in a narrow format. Aleksandr Lukashenko outlined the agenda, “As we agreed, we always have two parts — security and economic issues. Today is just an opportunity to hear what has already been done in connection with our instructions.” 
Vladimir Putin thanked his Belarusian counterpart for the invitation and added that the leaders of the two countries were in constant contact and in touch with each other, “We have an opportunity now to assess what has been done, what is happening now and what should be done in the near future, to outline concrete joint steps for our movement forward, for the development of our states.” 
The Russian President noted the importance of common historical memory, including everything related to the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War, and also offered to evaluate what has been done in the Union State over 25 years, “In general, I think we are doing a good job, if we talk about the economy. The results of economic development speak for themselves. I want to congratulate you on this, too. Belarus is confidently moving forward, it firmly stands on its feet, the economy is developing.” 
Before the start of the official talks at the Palace of Independence, Vladimir Putin laid a wreath at the Victory Monument and drove through the capital.

Russian President Vladimir Putin laid a wreath at the Victory Monument in Minsk before the start of negotiations         
at the Palace of Independence  Belta

Russia’s president shared his impressions of what he had seen, “I have driven through the city, looked around. The city is in a very good condition, it looks beautiful. First of all, I want to congratulate the city authorities on this.” The Russian leader added that before leaving for Minsk, he was informed about the state of affairs in specific areas of work, and expressed his opinion, “In my opinion, there are no unresolved issues. If something needs to be additionally agreed upon, we will certainly do it during the negotiations.” 
In fact, the leaders of the two countries had agreed to hold a meeting in Minsk back at the beginning of May at solemn events in Moscow. The plan also envisaged a meeting with the participation of government members and a thorough discussion of all issues of interest. 
Opening the extended part of the negotiations, Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasised, “Despite everything, Minsk and Moscow remain committed to strengthening integration. We support each other and we will further support each other in all directions. Moreover, our projects have already gone beyond the earth’s surface.”  During the talks, Aleksandr Lukashenko specified in detail a number of areas that the parties should pay special attention to. 


The Belarusian leader underscored that in this area, the two countries plan to continue specific work on the implementation of joint import-substituting projects in microelectronics, mechanical engineering, machine tool construction, military-technical co-operation, “In other words, these are the areas that ensure the achievement of the goals of technological sovereignty and economic security of our states.” 
All decisions at the presidential level have been made, and governments must implement them in a short time. First of all, according to Aleksandr Lukashenko, it is necessary to promptly finalise the formation of a unified industrial policy of the Union State.
“Both sides will benefit from this. Many of Belarusian and Russian assembly lines run on each other’s components. There should be no protective measures against partners at the legislative level. As we agreed, we need to protect ourselves from those who have imposed sanctions against us, and also from those who do not contribute to the development of the two states,” the Head of State emphasised. 

Energy industry

Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to the fact, “It is necessary to finalise the terms of oil and gas supplies to Belarus. We have been discussing this for several years, and today Vladimir Vladimirovich has made the appropriate decision. I think the governments will finalise the agreements in this area in the coming days. We have analysed all the nuances in detail.”
Belarus is also ready to continue working with Russian companies in the field of nuclear energy. The experience of the Belarusian NPP construction has opened up new opportunities for further development of these technologies, training of qualified personnel and even joint construction of such facilities in third countries.
The Russian President confirmed that during the narrow format negotiations, the existing issues of co-operation between Belarus and Russia in the field of energy have been resolved, “There are certain agreements. I have no doubt that all of them will be implemented.”  

Transport and logistics

According to the President of Belarus, a lot has been done in this direction, but the needs of enterprises are growing every day, “We need more serious investments in the development of railway infrastructure, renewal of rolling stock, increase in carrying capacity, and financial support for our air carriers. Measures are needed to increase the workload of Belarusian and Russian airports, joint projects that will make communication between our regions easier and more accessible.” 
The Russian President was convinced, “We need to restore and create new supply chains — both between ourselves and to help each other in order to ensure the uninterrupted operation of our enterprises, including those oriented to the markets of our countries and to the markets of third countries that want to work with us. There are quite a lot of such states.”  

Public procurement

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out the interest of Belarusian companies in working more closely with Russian state corporations. The Head of State told Vladimir Putin, “I think you will agree with my thesis that within the Union State, we should not limit ourselves by closing our countries off from each other in our common market. Moreover, the situation has shown that we can only rely on ourselves in this world in terms of long-term co-operation.” 

Potential of regions

Interregional co-operation has always been the engine of integration. Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that in recent years we had taken a fresh look at regional co-operation and appreciated its potential. After all, it is collaboration between the regions of Belarus and Russia that has provided a significant increase in mutual trade, “Belarus and its regions are currently co-operating with almost all subjects of the Russian Federation, and exports of products are growing.” 
The Belarusian leader recalled that the 11th Forum of the Regions of Belarus and Russia will take place in Vitebsk, Polotsk and Novopolotsk on June 27th-28th, and invited Vladimir Putin, members of the Government of the Russian Federation, governors, and heads of Russian enterprises to participate in the forum. 
“Thank you very much for the invitation,” Vladimir Putin replied. “We will certainly take advantage of this and will support this area of our co-operation, because a significant trade volume is concentrated at the regional level, in the regional dimension.” 

The trade volume between Belarus and Russia in 2023 amounted to about $48.7 billion, which is 6.3 percent higher compared to 2022. Mutual trade continued to grow in the first quarter of 2024. The volume of trade turnover has reached $12.08 billion — plus 4.2 percent compared to the same period in 2023. Russia remains the main trade and economic partner for Belarus. In the first quarter of 2024, it accounted for about 60 percent of the total value of Belarus’ foreign trade and 57.5 percent ($1.63 billion) of foreign investments attracted to our country.

Following the talks, the presidents made statements to the media

Aleksandr Lukashenko called the meetings in a narrow and expanded format fruitful. The Belarusian Head of State noted, “First of all, I am grateful to the President of Russia for finding time in his extremely busy schedule to pay an official visit to Belarus today. Thanks to this, today we have managed to thoroughly discuss a large list of issues on Belarus–Russia co-operation, primarily in the economic sector.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to an important trend, “The Belarusian-Russian relations have recently demonstrated impressive progress. The level of interaction and trust between our countries in all areas is truly unprecedented. We can confidently state that the economies of Belarus and Russia are steadily developing despite various obstacles.” 
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus aims to further develop the nuclear industry based on Russian technologies. The presidents discussed in detail the issues of industrial co-operation, the development of mechanical engineering and machine tool construction, and microelectronics.
“We need this, first of all, for building up import-substituting industries, which help us ensure our import independence and technological sovereignty. Ultimately, this means the security of our states,” Aleksandr Lukashenko clarified. 
The President was confident that the new Russian government will preserve continuity in terms of work related to Belarus–Russia collaboration, and stressed, “There are no unsolvable problems in the relations between our countries, there are those that have been postponed and require closer attention and deeper study. We can honestly admit that we have resolved all issues by now, and there are no unresolved problems. I am sure that we will work in the same way in the future.” 
In this context, the parties discussed the formation of a unified industrial policy within the framework of the Union State. Considerable attention was paid during the negotiations to the development of the transport and logistics sector. The presidents agreed that serious additional investments were required in this very promising industry. “In recent years, we have taken a fresh look at regional co-operation and appreciated its potential. Belarus and its regions are co-operating today, without exaggeration, with almost all subjects of the Russian Federation, with exports on a constant rise,” Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out. 
The President of Belarus drew attention to the fact that during the negotiations, they talked a lot about the international agenda, the problems of security in the world and the region against the backdrop of the unprecedented level of tension that everyone has to deal with, “Our approaches absolutely coincide in this regard. We will not deviate from the chosen path of creating a fair multipolar world order.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed gratitude to Vladimir Putin for detailed information on the results of his visit to China, “Belarus also aims to develop an all-weather and comprehensive partnership with Beijing. Belarus–China relations are significantly improving from year to year. We hope that we will join this influential international organisation at the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) summit in Astana in July.” 

Fraternal peoples, reliable allies

In turn, Vladimir Putin, when summing up the results of the talks, drew attention to the fact that his trip to Belarus became one of the first foreign visits after the presidential election and inauguration, and after the formation of the government of the Russian Federation, “By paying this visit, I would like to emphasise the importance that Russia attaches to fraternal ties with our closest neighbour, a reliable ally and a truly strategic partner.” 
Russia’s President agreed with his Belarusian counterpart that the negotiations were very productive. In general, he noted the successful development of the Union State. The Russian leader drew attention to the fact that bilateral trade was steadily growing from year to year. In this aspect, he noted, “Over 90 percent of all payments in Russian–Belarusian commercial transactions are made in our national currencies. This means that mutual trade and investment are protected from the influence of third countries and negative trends in the global currency markets.” 
Vladimir Putin called energy a priority sector of bilateral interaction, “Russia traditionally supplies oil and gas to Belarus on very favourable, preferential terms. In November 2023, the largest joint project was successfully completed — the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. The station is operating at full capacity. We are determined to continue helping our Belarusian friends develop their own nuclear industry, as well as strengthen co-operation in related high-tech sectors: digitalisation, nuclear medicine, and the creation of energy storage systems.”
The President of Russia noted the growth in the volume of rail cargo transportation from Belarus through the Russian territory, “In 2023, this figure more than doubled, exceeding 14 million tonnes. Our joint plans are to further increase the transit of Belarusian goods through Russia.” 
The head of the Russian state announced plans that would please both Russians and Belarusians who often visit the union country, “In the near future, it is planned to cancel roaming service on the territory of the Union State, that is, mobile communications for all subscribers in the two countries will be fully provided in the home network mode.”
According to Vladimir Putin, taking into account the tense situation on the external borders of the Union State, the creation of a single defence space was discussed in detail during the talks. The presidents reviewed the progress in the implementation of the instructions given by the heads of states on holding simultaneous exercises in Russia and Belarus to practise the skills of using non-strategic nuclear weapons. The leaders of the two countries also discussed the further co-ordination of actions in the international arena.

Based on materials of and