Belarus and Russia: happy together?
Minsk’s policies and resulting Western sanctions are driving Belarus and Russia closer together, both in terms of economic cooperation and Belarusian dependency.
Lukashenka addressed this subject directly during the “Big Conversation” on August 9th: “[closer integration with Russia] is cause for happiness, though we were aided by misfortune. We were isolated – Belarus and Russia.”
However, Lukashenka reminds his audience that there is still an obstacle: “any union must be based on principles of equality, so how can you integrate and move forward if Russian natural gas prices are two to three times lower than in Belarus?”
Lukashenka further philosophically ruminated: “Maybe we’ll be one state? Maybe Belarus will be part of Russia? Maybe Russia will be part of Belarus? Who knows how things will turn out?”
Meanwhile, the actual situation progresses towards ever greater, one-sided dependency on Russia.
In response to Lithuanian Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis announcement on August 12ththat transit of Belaruskali products would be banned from December 2021 due to US sanctions, Prime Minister Raman Halouchanka announced that the logistics of re-routing fertiliser exports from Lithuanian to Russian ports will be resolved by then, so this will have no material effect.
On August 9th, at a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation, chaired by Belarusian Ambassador Vladimir Semashko, the parties agreed to reduce roaming tariffs from September 1st of this year.
Other topics covered during the meeting included mutual recognition of vaccination documents regarding COVID-19, terms of supply of Russian elevator equipment, access of electronic products to state (municipal) purchases in Russia, the creation of a unified system for determining the level of localisation of automotive and specialised equipment produced in Belarus and Russia, and the lifting of restrictions on the supply of granite and crushed stone.