Meeting with Russia President Vladimir Putin
A meeting of Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and President of Russia Vladimir Putin took place in the state residence Bocharov Ruchey in Sochi.
One-on-one negotiations took place. The leaders of the countries discussed the state and prospects of advancement of bilateral cooperation in various spheres, relations within the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. They discussed international problems and the situation in the region, matters concerning the joint response to emerging challenges.
Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked the Russian side and President of Russia Vladimir Putin personally for support after the presidential election. Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that in his opening remarks the Russian leader had touched upon matters of the current meeting in Sochi sincerely and quite fully. “It is correct. Because there has never been so many conspiracy theories prior to our meeting. Due to certain circumstances I closely follow publications in various mass media… This is why everything you’ve said is very important. It generally responds to all the challenges and moods in mass media.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko continued: “First of all, I’d like to thank you. It is natural. Everyone understands it perfectly well. I would like to thank you not only for our honoring the treaties. It is natural. You’ve acted very decently and humanly. This is why I personally thank you and all the Russians, who’ve contributed to support for us in this post-election period.”
He promised he would tell Vladimir Putin about everything that had been happening. “Certainly, it looks different from mass media reports. You are an experienced man. You know as well as I do how things can be described and presented and what not,” the Belarusian leader noted. “And then in our age of information clashes and wars you know how things are presented. This is why I am going to inform you in detail about what is going on not even in Belarus but in Minsk.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that a friend in need is a friend indeed. “I say it sincerely. It is a lesson for us. Not only for Belarus and Russia but for our post-Soviet republics. We are going to talk about it during the meeting within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and even the Commonwealth of Independent States. I think my statement for these bodies will be of interest to you,” he noted. “During a phone call between you and I back when these events in Belarus were only starting we said that lessons should be learned from all events. And for us it is also a very serious lesson, which you and I have endured, I hope.”
“We’ve been acting smoothly with regard to the CSTO treaty. Taking into account relations between brotherly nations, one nation for all intents and purposes, we’ve acted accordingly. We didn’t wage a war, didn’t shoot, didn’t even throw sticks. But we demonstrated our resolve. If someone over there, beyond Belarusian borders, wants to scratch hands, we can scratch them at any time. I am very pleased and deeply grateful to you for your demonstrating that Belarusian borders are borders of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. And nobody is allowed to rattle sabers over there,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.
The President also noted that the sides acted systematically and gradually in the course of creating and enhancing the treaty on the establishment of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. “Our states and our nations will always be friendly,” Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.
“The economy is the basis for everything. Trust me, we have always pursued this course. Some recent events have shown that we should stay closer to our elder brother and cooperate in all fields, including in economy,” the Belarusian head of state noted.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that 10 million people in Russia work at enterprises that to a certain extent rely on manufacturing cooperation with Belarusian partners. “Supposing there are on average four members in a family, this number soars to 40 million. This means that the manufacturing cooperation is very tight. You are absolutely right. We will do everything to advance it. Because our whole country basically relies on raw materials, components, materials, and cooperation [with Russia], not to mention markets. Belarus exports 48% of its products to the Russian Federation, it is our main export market,” the Belarusian President said.
He also mentioned his talk with Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban. “I once asked my friend Viktor Orban about cooperation with other countries, especially in the EU, because of his special position. I think he said that Germany accounted for up to 90% of Hungary’s trade. Here is your answer, he told me,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that prior to the presidential election Vladimir Putin and he had decided to take a closer look at the economic relations after the electoral campaign. They agreed that the Russian prime minister and members of the government would come to Minsk for talks. “We did not want to fall into the trap of being stalled by difficult issues again. Yes, Mikhail Mishustin came to Minsk and also met with me. They did a good job regarding all the obvious issues, agreements were reached. We deliberately left some matters to be discussed and addressed at a meeting between the presidents,” the head of state noted.
In his opening remarks at the beginning of the talks Aleksandr Lukashenko noted: “As for defense, you and I are military men and we’ve always followed the same tactics. I may have put it rather bluntly in front of Russian reporters the other day: we can quarrel and argue about any matters but we’ve never argued and have never been in doubt about defense and security. We don’t have to ask anyone whether we should organize our army exercises or not. We’ve been organizing them and will continue doing so. If someone wants to join in, they are free to do it. If someone doesn’t want, they are free not to do it. I think, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] that you will order the Russian defense minister and our minister has already been ordered: we will make plans for army exercises for years ahead and we are going to specify them. We should stage small exercises and big ones together.”
This is why Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to one of the lessons arising from the current situation in Belarus and around the country: “Why do they have to make noise with their tank tracks near borders of the Union State and Belarus [in the course of military exercises of Western countries and NATO]? A complicated period. You should exercise patience then.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko spoke about a concrete action – the redeployment of an American tank battalion to the exercise area Pabrade in Lithuania 15km away from the Belarusian border. “Why do they have to do it? This is why we shouldn’t commit errors that happened during the Great Patriotic War when everyone was trying to calm things down, trying to prevent provocations, saying that no war will happen and the rest… We experienced a failure back then. Soviet army units didn’t even manage to group up and resist the invaders, who promptly crossed Belarus and reached even Smolensk. Only there did we manage to resist the invaders somehow,” the President said.
“This is why I believe we should in no way be mindful of what they may say to us. They don’t take into account our opinions. They fail to see our concern. They stage military exercises whenever they want. This is why we should prepare our armies without increasing tensions around us if you support the idea so that we could resist it, god forbid,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
Speaking about the epidemiological situation, Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “As for the coronavirus, I am grateful to you. We appreciate deeply the fact that Belarus is the first country to receive your vaccine [the sides previously agreed that Belarus will be the first country to receive the vaccine Russia develops]. You see what is going on in Europe. A strong second wave has definitely begun. I am afraid it will be stronger than the first one. I already see these trends. We are tracking them.”
Yet Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that no upsurge in coronavirus cases had been registered in Belarus unlike in a number of European countries. “It doesn’t mean we sit idle. We are very seriously preparing to avoid this wave. I am reassured by the fact that our specialists and scientists have noted that the virus is different now. But I am afraid this virus will team up with various flu strains that roam the area. This is why you and I should not relax,” he stated.