Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashe4nko met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 15 September.
"First of all, I would like to congratulate you on such a serious stage of the electoral cycle - the single voting day that was held in many regions. The results are clear; there’s no need to analyze them. They are, probably, best ever. All the candidates that you nominated to the post of governor were supported by the people. This is a great success," the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that economic performance is likely to recover to the pre-sanctions level next year.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “We cope with all these issues. Both minor and major ones. You are right. They tried to bend us really hard and nothing came out of it. On the contrary, we got mobilized somehow. It was even unexpected. I know that you and I didn’t expect we would be able to endure. Yes, our life is a bit poorer. Just a tiny bit. I think next year will be a good one for us and we will reach the pre-sanctions level of our economy’s performance. All the minor issues starting with the defense industry and the other issues relating to the Ukrainian conflict… All these issues have been practically resolved. If something is still left to be addressed, then we know how we should proceed.”
Speaking about integration-driven cooperation, Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that government officials of both countries had done a good job to fulfill instructions of the heads of state. “More than 80% of the tasks we’ve assigned to the governments have been fulfilled. We still have three months [to work on the main guidelines on realizing provisions of the Belarus-Russia Union State Foundation Treaty in 2021-2023 and 28 Union State programs]. I think we will fix these issues as well,” the President added.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also talked about measures to stabilize the situation on the fuel market upon Russia’s request. “I’d like to inform you that there were some complications on the fuel market. We stabilized the situation by supplying as much as the Russian Federation needed. As much as the government requested. I think 60,000 tonnes of diesel fuel and 60,000 tonnes of gasoline. We will stabilize the situation on our common markets. If we have to further reduce exports and increase domestic shipments, it is not a problem,” he assured.
Vladimir Putin said at the meeting that mutual relations between Belarus and Russia develop steadily and reliably.
Vladimir Putin said at the beginning of the meeting: “You and I continue contacts, consultations about our relations and about interaction, primarily in the sphere of economy. Everything is stable here and develops reliably, thank god.”
He also said that a budget process is nearing completion in Russia: “Everything is stable, reliable for us, which gives us reasons for joy. Why am I saying it? Because (you and I know it well) the state of the Russian economy certainly reflects upon our interaction within the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. We have mutual things, commitments in this regard. It seems to me it is necessary to synchronize watches about some matters.”
Speaking about cooperation in economy, Vladimir Putin made a few remarks about the sanctions introduced by Western countries. “European companies have refused to supply equipment and competencies. Apparently, in the hope that we lack them. We have restored all competencies. Absolutely all of them,” he said. “Huge, world-class enterprises will be commissioned in the very near future.”
Vladimir Putin stressed that former European partners of Russia say that they had been forced to curtail cooperation although they are suffering losses on a huge scale. “Moreover, some large high-tech companies have to reduce staff by 50% or even by 70%. Meanwhile, we are recovering. We are acquiring additional engineering competencies. This is very good,” he pointed out. In his words, there is no doubt that Russia still has something to work on, especially in the field of high technologies, and in many respects this was prompted by the pressure of sanctions.
In addition, Vladimir Putin mentioned his recent meeting with the leader of North Korea, who had visited Russia. “I also wanted to tell you how the discussion about the situation in the region proceeded. It is quite important,” the Russian leader told his Belarusian counterpart.
The Russian President also mentioned his intention to talk to the Belarusian counterpart to discuss the acutest issue – the situation in the direction of Ukraine and around the Ukrainian crisis.
“I am very glad to see you. Thank you for agreeing to come,” he summarized.
In turn, Aleksandr Lukashenko spoke about the development of cooperation with North Korea: "I watched closely your last events-packed working days. It was nice to see your meeting with Kim Jong-un at the Vostochny cosmodrome. I've been there myself. We have visited this cosmodrome before. I think that we can think about trilateral cooperation. North Korea, Russia... I know that Koreans have a great interest in cooperation with Russia. I think there will be some work for Belarus. Taking into account the problems that exist."
Aleksandr Lukashenko also noted that he will inform his Russian counterpart about the steps in cooperation with the African countries, taking into account the recent visit of the President of Equatorial Guinea to Belarus. “A very famous person. A sophisticated one. There is also joint work in the African direction.”
“Long story short, it seemed that we had resolved all the issues but they keep piling up, this is why it is necessary to consult in good time,” the Belarusian head of state said in his introductory remarks at the protocol part of the meeting.
Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin also talked to reporters.
A reporter told Vladimir Putin that the West claims that his recent meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un contributes to tensions in the region. The West also claims that Russia asked North Korea to send volunteers to participate in Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. The Russian President demolished these claims and said they were total nonsense.
In turn, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Western states should first count how many mercenaries they have already sent to participate in the Ukrainian conflict instead of trying to criticize Russia for something. “Maybe they need to do it. And secondly, it is a dangerous statement on their part [on the part of the West]. Because they dream of deploying their regular army units there. Army units are deployed in Poland near the border and are ready to enter Ukraine. You’ve also said that. They should look into their own eyes for some log instead of blaming someone else,” the Belarusian leader remarked.
Vladimir Putin said: “I absolutely agree with you. Fully. By the way, we see foreign mercenaries, foreign instructors in the battlefield and in the units where troops are getting trained. I think someone was taken prisoner yesterday or the day before yesterday. We don’t feel the need to invite someone from the outside to fight for us.”
Journalists also asked to comment on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's statement that it takes to tango with regard to the possible peace talks on Ukraine.
"As for the Americans, they themselves do not know how to tango. Tango is wonderful amazing music and beautiful moves, but the United States solves all issues from a position of strength. Or with the help of economic sanctions, or financial restrictions, the threat of the use of military force, or its use. They are trying to teach everyone while they themselves do not know how to do it or do not want to. Most likely, they just don't want to," Vladimir Putin said.
He stressed that Russia has never refused to negotiate. "Therefore, if the other side wants to, they should say about it directly," the Russian leader said.
The Russian President noted: "Tangoing is good, but it is important that Ukraine does not forget how to dance gopak. This is important. Otherwise, they will have to dance to someone else's music, someone else's tune all the time. But everyone will have to dance [the Russian dance] Barynya, one way or another, or Kazachok in the best-case scenario.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko, in turn, said: "They seem to have begun to tango. Three rounds of negotiations were held in Belarus and Istanbul. Then Blinken and Austin commanded Zelensky to stop the negotiations. These are the facts. These are the hard facts. Therefore, they have no reason to blame others.
"He signed a decree prohibiting [the negotiations with Russia]," Vladimir Putin agreed.
"He forbade it for himself," Aleksandr Lukashenko added.