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May 20 – May 26, 2024
Belarus-Russia relations

“No unresolved issues as of today.” There are only postponed ones

The situation has not changed
“No unresolved issues as of today.” There are only postponed ones
Photo: https://elements.envato.com

On May 23-24, negotiations between Lukashenka and Putin took place in Minsk — Putin visited Belarus on an official visit. This is his second visit, and accordingly, the second most important visit (after China) of the Russian president following his inauguration. The lineup of strategic partners is limited — and one can only speculate where the third visit will be made.

As analysts note, the tour was planned in advance, although from an external point of view it may seem “sudden” — at least because it was not publicly announced beforehand.

Security above all — this can describe the baseline of the negotiations. At least, as Lukashenka stated after the meeting, “ninety percent, perhaps even more, of our meetings are about security and defense issues.” In this context, Putin made another ambiguous statement that the Kremlin is ready for peace talks with Kyiv “based on today’s realities on the ground.” At the same time, he doubted whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky could represent Ukraine, whose legitimacy, according to Putin, “has ended.” Some analysts suggest that Moscow intends to bring former Ukrainian President Yanukovych into play (who, incidentally, arrived in Belarus on May 24), but there is no unequivocal confirmation of this.

In addition to security issues, Lukashenka and Putin discussed a wide range of topics, including union integration, mutual trade, investments, energy, logistics, and the development of technical competencies in the context of sanctions. On all these issues, Lukashenka and Putin expressed maximum optimism and spoke generally, without delving into details.

Lukashenka expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the negotiations and summarized: “We have resolved all issues, there are no unresolved issues as of today.” And since all issues are resolved, the heads of state see no need to meet, say, for the next couple of years — this statement can be interpreted as such. Yet some issues continue to be considered as postponed.

Observers were particularly interested in Lukashenka’s statement that the parties had finally agreed on the terms of oil and gas supplies to Belarus. This is mainly because all these issues (including a long-term gas contract) were supposedly already settled. According to him, “we need to finally agree on the terms of oil and gas supplies to Belarus. We have been discussing this for more than a year. And today, Vladimir Vladimirovich made the appropriate decision. I think the governments will finalize these agreements in the coming days. We have thoroughly discussed all the nuances.” There are no details regarding these nuances.

In a briefing note to the negotiations, it is noted that “in the energy sector, the harmonization of approaches to the formation of unified markets for oil, gas, and electricity continues.” “Russia supplies oil to Belarus duty-free. Privileged comfortable conditions for Russian gas supplies for 2023-2025 have been established,” the material states.

This was the fourth meeting between Lukashenka and Putin in 2024. In 2023, they met six times, and in 2022, they set a record with 12 meetings. There were four meetings in 2020.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.
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