One billion for 30% of industry programs
As the “Allied Resolve 2022” military manoeuvres near completion, Belarus and Russia return once again to the topic of the implementation of the 28 Union State programs (roadmaps) and report some success. However, Russian financial support remains very limited (from Minsk’s point of view), and friction is arising in relations, despite a background of military “victories”.
On February 18th, the Kremlin hosted the first face-to-face talks between Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenka of 2022. Putin summarised the results at a press conference, stating that “Moscow and Minsk are strategic partners, good neighbours, and closest allies”. Special attention was also paid to external threats.
As the final phase of the “Allied Resolve 2022” manoeuvres approaches, the parties predictably begin to return to the topic of implementing the 28 union programs.
According to Lukashenka’s calculations, around 30% of sectoral programs have already been implemented, covering matters such as tax harmonisation, customs cooperation and a single gas market.
Putin highly appreciated the work in this direction. However, he did not present any specifics, noting only a significant increase in Belarusian export logistics via Russia. That development can be more credibly attributed to international sanctions against Belarus than union state achievements.
Meanwhile, Russia has barred cross border automobile traffic, citing the challenging epidemiological situation, and prompting complaints from Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei.
The Belarusian leadership were irritated by Russian Finance Minister, Anton Siluanov, stating that the Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development cannot allocate USD 3.5 billion to Belarus. Minsk requested this sum at the end of 2021 to restructure the national debt. However, Moscow is ready to meet halfway and consider a USD 1 billion loan. The fact that a significant part of the budget will have to be used to pay national debt inevitably means a reduction in state expenditure.
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Situation in Belarus