Implementation of the Union State programmes, the situation on the common fuel market, the conflict in Ukraine, co-operation with the DPRK and forecasts for the next year – the main topics of negotiations between the Presidents of Belarus and Russia
The Head of the Belarusian State Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi. This is the sixth meeting between the leaders of the two countries since the beginning of the year.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate you on such a serious stage of the electoral cycle — the single voting day that was held in many regions. The results are clear; there’s no need to analyse them. They are, probably, best ever. All the candidates that you nominated to the post of governor were supported by the people. This is a great success,” the Belarusian leader said.
During the meeting, Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed confidence that next year it will be possible to reach the pre-sanction level of economic performance.
“We cope with all these issues. Both minor and major ones. You are right. They tried to bend us really hard and nothing came out of it. On the contrary, we got mobilised somehow. It was even unexpected. I know that you and I didn’t expect we would be able to endure. Yes, our life is a bit poorer. Just a tiny bit. I think next year will be a good one for us and we will reach the pre-sanctions level of our economy’s performance. All the minor issues starting with the defence industry and the other issues relating to the Ukrainian conflict — all these issues have been practically resolved. If something is still left to be addressed, then we know how we should proceed,” the Head of the Belarusian State emphasised.
Speaking about integration-driven co-operation, Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that government officials of both countries had done a good job to fulfil instructions of the Heads of State.
“More than 80 percent of the tasks we’ve assigned to the governments have been fulfilled. We still have three months [to work on the main guidelines on realising provisions of the Belarus-Russia Union State Foundation Treaty in 2021-2023 and 28 Union State programmes]. I think we will fix these issues as well,” the President of Belarus continued.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also talked about measures to stabilise the situation on the fuel market upon Russia’s request.
“I’d like to inform you that there were some complications on the fuel market. We stabilised the situation by supplying as much as the Russian Federation needed. As much as the government requested. I think 60,000 tonnes of diesel fuel and 60,000 tonnes of gasoline. We will stabilise the situation on our common markets. If we have to further reduce exports and increase domestic shipments, it is not a problem,” the Belarusian leader assured.
Vladimir Putin said at the meeting that relations between the two countries are developing steadily and reliably.
“You and I continue contacts, consultations about our relations and about interaction, primarily in the sphere of economy. Everything is stable here and develops reliably, thank god,” The Head of the Russian State said at the beginning of the meeting.
Vladimir Putin also informed that a budget process is nearing completion in Russia,
“Everything is stable, reliable for us, which gives us reasons for joy. Why am I saying it? Because (you and I know it well) the state of the Russian economy certainly reflects upon our interaction within the framework of the Union State. We have mutual things, commitments in this regard. It seems to me it is necessary to synchronise watches about some matters.”
In addition, Vladimir Putin mentioned his recent meeting with the leader of North Korea, who had visited Russia.
“I also wanted to tell you how the discussion about the situation in the region proceeded. It is quite important,” he noted.
The Russian President also mentioned his intention to talk to the Belarusian counterpart to discuss the acutest issue — the situation in the direction of Ukraine and around the Ukrainian crisis.
“I am very glad to see you. Thank you for agreeing to come,” he summarised.
Aleksandr Lukashenko, in turn, also spoke about the development of co-operation with the DPRK,
“I watched closely your last events-packed working days. It was nice to see your meeting with Kim Jong-un at the Vostochny cosmodrome. I’ve been there myself. We have visited this cosmodrome before. I think that we can think about trilateral co-operation. North Korea, Russia... I know that Koreans have a great interest in co-operation with Russia. I think there will be some work for Belarus. Taking into account the problems that exist.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko also noted that he will inform his Russian counterpart about the steps in co-operation with the African countries, taking into account the recent visit of the President of Equatorial Guinea to Belarus.
“A very famous person. A sophisticated one. There is also joint work in the African direction. Long story short, it seemed that we had resolved all the issues, but they keep piling up, this is why it is necessary to consult in good time. I am grateful that you took the time to consult and discuss actions for the future,” the Head of the Belarusian State noted.
The Presidents of Belarus and Russia Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin also jointly spoke with journalists.
One of the questions to Vladimir Putin concerned statements in the West that his recent meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un contribute to tensions in the region and allegedly the Russian side asked North Korea to send volunteers to participate in Russia’s special military operation. The Russian President demolished these claims and said they were total nonsense.
In turn, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Western states should first count how many mercenaries they have already sent to participate in the Ukrainian conflict instead of trying to criticise Russia for something.
“Maybe they need to do it. And secondly, it is a dangerous statement on their part [on the part of the West]. Because they dream of deploying their regular army units there. Army units are deployed in Poland near the border and are ready to enter Ukraine. They should look into their own eyes for some log instead of blaming someone else,” the Belarusian leader remarked.
“I absolutely agree with you. Fully. By the way, we see foreign mercenaries, foreign instructors in the battlefield and in the units where troops are getting trained. I think someone was taken prisoner yesterday or the day before yesterday. We don’t feel the need to invite someone from the outside to fight for us,” Vladimir Putin said.
Journalists also asked to comment on the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement on possible peace negotiations with Ukraine. A senior representative of the American establishment recently put it figuratively when he said that Russia and Ukraine will eventually have ‘to tango’.
“As for the Americans, they themselves do not know how to tango. Tango is wonderful amazing music and beautiful moves, but the United States solves all issues from a position of strength. Or with the help of economic sanctions, or financial restrictions, the threat of the use of military force, or its use. They are trying to teach everyone while they themselves do not know how to do it or do not want to. Most likely, they just don’t want to,” Vladimir Putin said.
He stressed that Russia has never refused to negotiate.
“Therefore, if the other side wants to, they should say about it directly,” the Russian leader said.
At the same time, the President of Russia noted, “Tangoing is good, but it is important that Ukraine does not forget how to dance gopak. This is important. Otherwise, they will have to dance to someone else’s music, someone else’s tune all the time. But everyone will have to dance [the Russian dance] Barynya, one way or another, or Kazachok in the best-case scenario.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko, in turn, said, “They seem to have begun to tango. Three rounds of negotiations were held in Belarus and Istanbul. Then Blinken and Austin commanded Zelensky to stop the negotiations. These are the facts. These are the hard facts. Therefore, they have no reason to blame others.”
“He signed a decree prohibiting [the negotiations with Russia],” Vladimir Putin agreed.
“He forbade it for himself,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.