Negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin
Belarus and Russia will able to overcome the pressure of Western sanctions by teaming up with allies. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement as he met with President of Russia Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on 11 March.
The meeting of the heads of state lasted for over five hours and proceeded in various formats.
As a matter of priority, the heads of state discussed in detail the situation in the world, in the region, with a focus on Ukraine. One of the main topics in this regard was progress in the peace talks taking place in Belarus and the positions of the Russian and Ukrainian sides. Aide to the President of Russia Vladimir Medinsky was invited to join the presidents at this point. The parties voiced a unanimous opinion: the conflict can be resolved any time if the Ukrainian side wants it.
The second part of the talks dealt with bilateral relations and joint action in the face of the tough pressure from the West and the United States and the hybrid war unleashed against Russia and Belarus.
The heads of state agreed by and large on mutual support in connection with the sanctions; this includes matters related to energy prices.
The two leaders also touched upon cooperation in manufacturing, agriculture, and cargo transportation between the two countries.
Much attention was paid to the development of the defense industry and the protection of the Union State. In particular, an agreement was reached on Russia’s delivery to Belarus of the latest pieces of military equipment in the near future. In turn, Belarus will increase the supply of modern agricultural machinery, passenger vehicles and other engineering products.
The presidents also reached mutually beneficial agreements in the financial sector.
The Belarusian President said at the end of the talks that Russia took most serious and unprecedented steps to support the economy of Belarus.
In the follow-up to the presidents’ agreements, government delegations of the two countries will meet in Moscow on Monday to work out concrete decisions on all the issues discussed.
At the beginning of the meeting Vladimir Putin congratulated Aleksandr Lukashenko on the successful conduct of the referendum. He took note of the high turnout at the polling stations and Belarusians’ support.
“One and a half percent more than we had in the recent presidential election,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“I think that the political process that you have initiated, the dialogue that you are conducting with the people is extremely important in order to make the situation stable and sustainable. Only in this situation can we talk about economic development,” the Russian head of state added.
As for the western sanctions, Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that Belarus and Russia will withstand the pressure in enemies’ despite. “We will hold out for sure! In enemies’ despite!” he told reporters prior to the meeting with his Russian counterpart.
The Belarusian President presented a plan of action at the meeting with Vladimir Putin.
"You have always helped your allies. Kazakhstan, well… everybody. You've opened the market for some. I won't name them as they do not like it. Well, we need to rally together in the CSTO, in the EAEU. After all, everybody has called for unity. Well, let's do it. Believe me, with these markets pooled together, we will see the sanctions in our rearview mirror in a month. Therefore, I am making this proposal (and I think you will support me): let’s get the CSTO and the EAEU together in Moscow, sit down at the negotiating table and agree on what we sell each other. We also need to build common economic policy," the Belarusian President said.
"Therefore, I came to Moscow in good spirits, confident that we will fare better than we did after the collapse of the USSR and even during the Soviet Union. The situation is not that bad to be very concerned about. What we need is time. The big is seen from a distance," the Belarusian leader added.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, sanctions are a time of opportunities. Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “You and I are constantly in touch. As if we’d expected the times would be tough. But I’ve told you over the phone more than once: the Russian Federation and Belarus always have to deal with sanctions. Today’s are larger but we are already accustomed to this piggery of the West, I beg your pardon. Why piggery? Because all of it is illegitimate as they are fond of saying. All of it is illegal, in violation of all the international agreements and treaties. This is why I say one more time: it is simply piggery from my point of view. I’ve already had a fair share of it. And you are fed up with it, too,” he said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that Belarus and Russia have everything necessary to keep living and working: “We can do without them. We have everything in place to live and work normally.
“This is the time of opportunities [the sanctions of the West]. If we get our bearings, believe me, in six months, by the end of the year, people will forget that this happened in our economy. And there is no need to doubt whether or not we will handle the sanctions ... Listen, we have survived them many times. We need to restructure our economy,” the head of state stressed.
Vladimir Putin agreed with his Belarusian counterpart. "We have always faced attempts to limit our development, to restrain it. These attempts are being made now. Today they are larger, it's obvious. But I am sure that we will deal with these difficulties and will acquire more competencies, more opportunities to be self-reliant and independent. In the end, this will benefit us, as it was in previous years," Vladimir Putin is convinced. “A massive strike against the economy is being carried out now. But the practice of recent years indicates that we’ve gained new competences and regained old ones at a new technological level in the areas affected by Western sanctions. It’s all about work. We’ve certainly become stronger in this regard.”
He remarked that the current period of sanctions is a time of opportunities for further movement towards stronger technological and economic sovereignty. “You are absolutely right: the Soviet Union definitely lived all the time with sanctions, it grew and achieved colossal accomplishments. The sanctions the Soviet Union experienced stayed in place as sanctions against Russia even after 1990. The sanctions then became part of the modern history. Those are restrictions in the area of high technologies. All of it happened and it is so,” the Russian leader added.
By the way, the trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and Russia has been positively developing. “Last year the bilateral trade soared by more than 34%,” Vladimir Putin said.
The presidents also discussed the situation in the region in general and in Ukraine in particular.
"I will certainly inform you about the situation with regard to Ukraine, first of all, about the negotiations, which are held on an almost daily basis. There is certain positive progress there," Vladimir Putin said.
“Fortunately, more and more people come to understand it. We did not attack them. We did not! The Armed Forces of Ukraine began to shoot preventively back when we were at your place two days before. We were in a helicopter. We got regular updates. It was them who started doing it. I will show you the place from where the attack on Belarus was being prepared. Had there not been a preventive strike on the positions (four positions, I will show it now, I have brought the map) six hours before the operation, they would have attacked the troops of Belarus and Russia, who were at the military drills,” the President of Belarus said.
“Therefore, it was not us who unleashed this war. Our conscience is clear. It is good that it was started. Biological weapons, the largest nuclear power plants ... And all this was ready to be blown up. Now we see what is happening in Chernobyl,” the Belarusian leader said.
“You asked me to supply electricity, but they [in Ukraine] don’t need it. And whatever is happening there, they reject it. We brought electricity to the Chernobyl station by force, as I promised,” the President said.
Vladimir Putin thanked his Belarusian counterpart for that.
“People are beginning to understand what is what, and who is right. Had we not done it a day before, believe me, in a few days we would have incurred huge losses. I would like to reiterate: they were preparing to attack not only Donbass. They were down to strike at Belarus,” the Belarusian head of state emphasized.
“So there is no need to make excuses to anyone. I see how some people in Belarus and Russia are acting: they are questioning whether it was right. They would have suffered more than in the middle of the last century, when these fascists were moving towards us,” the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed concern over the activities of foreign mercenaries in Ukraine. “These foreign mercenaries are moving along Belarus’ border towards the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Three things. They want to cut off lines of march of Russian troops, to backstab them as I’ve said. Second, they want to attack positions of the troops staying in our country after the Belarusian-Russian army exercise. And they still hope we will get involved in this slaughter so that we would leave the western flank unprotected,” he said.
“They are not that simple. And you and I have yet to figure out what they want to do in Chernobyl,” the Belarusian leader added.