MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia threw out its embattled, authoritarian ally in Belarus a new lifeline on Thursday, pledge cheap natural gas and more than $600 million in new loans as part of a push over more closely integrate post-Soviet neighbors.
Mr Putin and President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus met in person for the sixth time in the past year, hammering out a long-delayed integration plan that some analysts had speculated could bring the two together countries to the brim of An full- a failed merger.
Thursday late in the evening in the Kremlin, finally the two leaders announced the contours of such a plan, but one that directed on align the two countrieseconomies, while ignoring thorny political issues.
“We have to first create an economic base, an economic foundation, in order to move forward, including on the political track,” Putin said.
The announcements, made in a joint news conference of Mr Putin and Mr Lukashenko, came down to the Kremlin’s latest signal that it would support the Belarusian leader despite the storm of Western Criticism over human rights violations in the country. It also showed that Mr Putin was determined to block Belarus from following the… path of its southern neighbour, Ukraine, in drift off out of The orbit of Russia and in die of the West.
- Belarus in the spotlight. The emergency landing of a commercial flight on Sunday, is seen by several countries as called a state hijacking for by its strong president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko.
- Election results and protest. It came less than one year after Belarusians were met with a violent police action when they protested against the results of an election die was derided by many Western governments as a sham.
- Forced plane landing. Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, was diverted to Minsk with the goal of to hold Roman Protasevich, a 26-year-old dissident journalist.
- Who is Roman Protasevich? In a video released by the government, Mr. Protasevich confessed that he had participated in organizing “mass unrest” last year, but friends say the confession was made met coercion.
Mr Putin ever again Mr Lukashenko’s endorsed rule, in which he stated that the political situation in Belarus “met particular stabilized”. He rebuked Western countries for refuse to participate with mr. Lukashenko — whose regime was hit by further western sanctions afterwards forced down a commercial aircraft wearing a Belarusian dissident in May – by comparing him met the Taliban.
“Everybody in basically want to talk directly to the Taliban movement,” Mr Putin said, pointing out that it is sanctioned by the United Nations. “But the president of Belarus, Aleksandr Grigoryevich Lukashenko, did not come to power like a result of armed conflict.”
Russia and Belarus have already immigration eliminated controls for each other’s burgers at their shared border, and they are close military allies. A huge four year old military exercise known as Zapad-2021, scheduled to begin 200,000 Russian and Belarusian soldiers will drill on Friday in a thinly veiled rehearsal of An possible conflict with NATO.
Mr Putin said that he and Mr Lukashenko also discussed in more detail military cooperation on Thursday, but he gave no details.
The established order of An “union state” between Russia and Belarus first agreed to in the 1990s, met the eye on a common legislature and currency. But to Mr Putin’s apparent frustration, Mr Lukashenko . has dragged his feet on closer political integration with Russia for years – instead approach Europe and take advantage of playing Moscow and the West off each other.
The strategy ended up last yearwhen Belarus erupted in protest over Mr Lukashenko .’s Fraudulent Claim of to have won a crushing reelection to a sixth presidential term. Moscow, after a few days of hesitation, waved at Mr Lukashenko’s support. That helped him stay in office but left it almost completely dependent on the Kremlin for its political survival – accelerating the long-delayed integration talks.
the similarities announced on Thursday did not include a common currencies of legislature, but imposed a foundation for closer ties in the next few years. Mr Putin said both sides had agreed to focus on economic integration first, including closer alignment on taxes, pensions and labor law.
Russia agreed in to deliver Belarus with about $630 million in new loans, said Mr Putin, and to set up An market for natural gas that would help Mr Lukashenko keeps his country’s energy costs in account.
“If we need closer military, political of economic integration, we will do this immediately,” Lukashenko said. “We will do everything in the interest of the people.”
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