Meeting with Russia President Vladimir Putin

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Belarus and Russia have made tremendous progress in the development of cooperation, including through the Union State project, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on 20 December.

The head of state stressed that the countries have made significant achievements in social sector and in economy. “A lot has been done. For some reason, we do not always talk about what has been done. We have achieved a lot, not only in social matters, for our people. We have done a lot in economy," the President said.

The head of state noted that Belarus and Russia have created the common defense space, air defense, a group of forces, and the common security space.

“Russia has no problems with flying over Belarus. We have always acted in good faith. We have never had any issues with air transport. Our airports operate very efficiently. Even regional ones cooperate well," the President added.

“We have never had complaints with regard to our diplomatic agencies. There is the common border, customs in the west. Some 110 million tonnes of cargo is transported from east to west and from west to east through Belarus, which implies the common customs, the border," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

He also noted that Belorusneft returned to work in Russia. It provides maintenance services reviving old fields and also produces oil together with other companies.

The progress is tremendous. Today Belarus buys from you not only raw materials but also component parts. More than 10 million work at enterprises in Russia, with which Belarusian companies cooperate manufacturing end products. We usually multiply this figure by 4, keeping families in mind. Very many people work for the bilateral trade and joint production cooperation,” the Belarusian leader said.

“After the collapse of the Soviet Union, we have not swayed away far from each other in economic, political and social sectors. This is also a great achievement of this treaty [the Union State Treaty]. If we have not implemented the document in full, this does not mean that we have gone separate ways, as it happened with, for example, Russia  and other former Soviet Union countries (not only with the Baltic States or Ukraine). This the achievement we have made in recent years. But you are right: we still have something to work on,” the head of state said.

Vladimir Putin stated that the meeting was taking place ahead of the EAEU and CIS summits. “On 8 December, we marked 20 years since the signing of the Union State Treaty. I would like to say that although not everything has been done yet, the progress has been significant. When we launched the process, the trade was $9 billion. Today it is $35.5 billion. This is a tangible result. We have also solved many issues in the social sector,” the Russian President said.

He also stressed that the experience gained by Belarus and Russia as part of the Union State was widely used by other integration associations, including the EAEU.

“I know that our colleagues have been actively working after our previous meeting [in Sochi on 7 December]. We are very glad to welcome you to continue this discussion,” the Russian leader added.

Belarus and Russia have reached a conceptual agreement on energy resources. Prices will be determined within the next few days.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Today we’ve asked heads of the working group – [First Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Dmitry] Krutoi and [Russian Economic Development Minister Maksim] Oreshkin to tell us what issues had been dealt with. Naturally the most complicated issues are left to be addressed. But only the figures as far as energy resources are concerned. We’ve reached a conceptual agreement that next year Belarus will buy roughly 20 billion m3 of natural gas from the Russian Federation. There are no restrictions. We can buy even 22 billion m3. Certainly, we are going to buy 4-5 billion m3 less than that once the nuclear power plant is commissioned. This is why we’ve come to terms on the volume and we’ve agreed that we will buy 24-25 million tonnes of oil from Russia. The prices will not be higher than this year’s,” the Belarusian leader stated.

In his words, specific prices will be determined within the next few days. “The oil price will be determined within two days. I think it will take 2-3 days to define the price for natural gas. Specialists will meet in Gazprom on Tuesday and specific prices will become available. But on the whole the price will remain at this year’s level,” the President clarified.

Asked whether an additional meeting with Vladimir Putin may be required before the end of this year or early next year, Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “It is possible. We will talk over the phone soon. We have a couple of presidential matters we have to address. After that conversation if we still need to meet, we will certainly do so in any place at any time, in Russia or Belarus.”

The head of state noted the sides are satisfied with progress of the negotiations on the whole. “Everyone is pleased. Both the President of Belarus and the President of Russia. And the intergovernmental group. On the whole, we are satisfied with progress and the results,” he concluded.