Negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin
The meeting of the presidents of Belarus and Russia, Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin, took place in St. Petersburg on 23 July.
The heads of state arrived at Konstantinovsky Palace together.
"Aleksandr Grigorievich, we are meeting today as agreed...", the Russian leader began the protocol part of the meeting.
The Belarusian president remarked: "We agreed on the meeting six months ago."
"It's true. That's right. We agreed about this a long time ago," Vladimir Putin noted. “We are meeting in St. Petersburg today. The weather is good. It is a Sunday afternoon, but we always have something to talk about. At the beginning of the meeting, I would like to note that all our plans are being implemented, even at a better pace than we expected."
The Russian leader noted the good state of the economies of the two countries, the expected economic growth by the end of the year: "I looked at the latest data. The Belarusian economy is expected to grow by 3.7% in 2023. These are the projected figures, but still. Our growth forecasts are a little lower. But this is a good indicator for us too. We expect the growth of more than 2%. Unemployment is low. In general, all the main indicators give us reason to believe that we will pass this year well and will have good growth."
"Our plans in terms of the Union State are being fully implemented. We are moving confidently in all areas. Trade is growing. According to various sources, the data vary a little. According to our data, it is around $43.7 billion, if we speak in dollar terms. According to Belarusian statistics, it is almost $45 billion," the Russian president said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said that the cost of services provided should be into account too.
"You are right," the Russian president concurred.
The presidents also noted the successful operation of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. Its second unit has already been launched this year.
"We have made progress, satisfactory progress, to put it modestly. Of course, we will also talk about security issues in the region. I hope that today and tomorrow we will have the opportunity to discuss all this in an informal setting, in great detail," Vladimir Putin said.
In his opening remarks, Aleksandr Lukashenko touched upon many issues, including the course of the special military operation, the lack of results of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, and NATO's military build-up in Poland. Another important topic is plans for the development of economic cooperation between Belarus and Russia.
"We won't be able to do it in a day. Therefore, we will meet tomorrow. As far as I understand, you will find time for us to talk," the Belarusian president said addressing his counterpart.
"Of course. I changed some of my plans. We can spend one and a half to two days," Vladimir Putin confirmed.
"Great! We will settle these issues in a day and a half. Thank you for finding the time for the meeting we agreed six months ago. Therefore, there is nothing extraordinary here. We have been planning the meeting for a long time. When a need arises, we meet and discuss our tactical and strategic issues," the Belarusian head of state said.
"As for the economy, I would like to suggest that our governments think through some kind of economic plan. The point is self-reliance. We will not kowtow to anyone. We have got brains. Resources are more than enough. We need a plan for the development of our Fatherland. As I say: two states, one Fatherland. We can do it. The main forces have been here, in Russia, since old times. It will be good if our governments come up with such a plan," the head of state said.
"Even if things are a little worse off, people will understand and support us. Because there will be the light at the end of the tunnel," the Belarusian leader said.
The countries have already begun to work in this direction, advancing cooperation in all areas, including in microelectronics, space, and agriculture. "We see good results everywhere. So we need to put everything together into a plan, appoint people in charge. Thus we will do our job strategically," the Belarusian president said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko brought a map showing the deployment of Polish troops at the border of the Union State to a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The head of state noted that one of the Polish brigades is now deployed 40km away from Brest, another - about 100km away from Grodno.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that there is no Ukrainian counteroffensive.
"No, there is. It's just failed," the Russian president said.
"It failed indeed. There are no results," the Belarusian leader confirmed. “What's next? They, as you said recently, have begun to engage Poland. They are making active use of mercenaries. I brought you a map showing the deployment of the Polish Armed Forces at the borders of the Union State, which you talked about. We see that they are setting the stage. One of the brigades has been deployed 40km away from Brest. They used to be 500km away, now the distance is 40km. We see it all. Another brigade has been deployed a little more than 100km away from Grodno. They have a division, but so far these are brigades. Poland opened a facility to repair Leopards on their territory. Rzeszow is becoming more active. The Americans are using its airfield to send hardware and so on.”
The head of state noted the increased militarization of Poland, the deployment of significant forces to the borders of the Union State. "Naturally, Poland wants something in return. It's clear it will get money, weapons. This is understandable. But now there is a lot of talking ‘to admit Ukraine into NATO in parts’. You also noted this. What's behind it? This is a smokescreen," the president said. “Tear off western Ukraine. Under the guise of admission to NATO, so that the population is ok with that."
"They want to chop off western Ukraine and annex it to Poland. This is a payment to Poland for its active participation in this operation against the Russian army. The Americans support this," the Belarusian leader added.
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko lauded the successes of the Russian army in the special military operation.
"Yesterday was a difficult day. This is according to our data. You will also share your opinion on this. It was a very difficult day. Fortunately, it ended well. According to our data, more than 15 Leopards [German-made tanks] and more than 20 Bradleys [US infantry fighting vehicles] were destroyed in one battle. This, I think, has never happened before," the head of state said.
“On the other side they used units fully equipped with foreign hardware," Vladimir Putin said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the destruction of such a number of hardware also testifies to the heavy losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: "We can estimate how many soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine died considering the number of destroyed hardware. I know this because I served as an officer in the armored army back in the day. Therefore, I understand what it means to destroy so many infantry fighting vehicles and, most importantly, much vaunted Leopards.”
The Belarusian president cited the U.S. estimates which indicate that the Armed Forces of Ukraine lost 26,000 soldiers since the start of the counteroffensive.
"More," Vladimir Putin responded.
"It's already more. Well, a week ago they estimated Ukraine’s irretrievable losses at over 26,000. From 4 June [from the launch of the counteroffensive]. I put their data down," the Belarusian president said.
"Even more," the Russian leader said affirmatively.
Aleksandr Lukashenko continued: "Yesterday showed that this is the war against the entire NATO. They arm them; send a lot of mercenaries there. Yesterday was an important day because they made use of the main strategic reserves. This suggests that this thoughtless policy of throwing untrained people and mercenaries into hell will lead nowhere.
During the meeting, Vladimir Putin noted that foreign mercenaries also suffer significant losses.
"Huge losses. Because of their tactics," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
"Because of their stupidity," the Russian leader replied.
"They move in groups," the Belarusian president said.
In turn, Vladimir Putin stressed that people of the countries whose governments are sending people to the war zone should also be aware of what is happening. "We will communicate this to the people so that they assess the actions of their rulers," he said.
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked the Russian president for the security guarantees to Belarus.
"I would like to thank you. You are the first person in Russia who spoke about this openly and clearly. Aggression against Belarus will be like an attack on Russia. We take this into account in the construction of our Armed Forces," the head of state said during at the talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg.
The presidents of Belarus and Russia toured the landmarks in Kronstadt after the official part of the talks in Konstantinovsky Palace.
The heads of state first came to the Island of Forts Museum and Historical Park. There they were shown the main exhibit - the first Soviet nuclear submarine K-3 "Leninsky Komsomol". She was delivered to the Museum of Naval Glory in Kronstadt from Murmansk Oblast in the autumn of 2022.
Another point of the joint informal program of the presidents was a visit to the Stavropegic St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral in Kronstadt, also known as the Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas.