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January 16 – January 22, 2023
Belarus-Russia relations

Plans for further rapprochement

The situation has not changed

Lukashenka plans closer cooperation with Putin. At the board of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Belarus and Russia, a memorandum of understanding was signed regarding biological security issues and forming a supranational tax committee.

During a meeting on January 19th with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Lukashenka announced that he intends to arrange meetings with Putin in 2023 even more frequently than the ten face-to-face meetings of 2022, which set a new record in the field.

Lukashenka also, somewhat unexpectedly, stated that Ukraine “pleasantly surprises him” in terms of avoiding provocations against Belarus, which its western neighbours are allegedly encouraging. He thereby signalled to the Kremlin and the West that Belarus has no grounds for direct intervention in hostilities in Ukraine. Lukashenka continues to attempt to portray himself as a peacemaker, calculating that it is the most profitable position to take at this stage. This also provides circumstantial evidence that the anticipated winter offensive of early 2023 is either cancelled or postponed.

At the meeting of the board of Foreign Affairs, the departments of Belarus and Russia signed an intergovernmental memorandum on ensuring biological security. According to Lavrov, the intent is “to combat threats in this area that stem from the activities of foreign militaries and related organisations.” The memorandum provides for a regular exchange of information between relevant agencies and the timely development of response methods.

The parties also signed a resolution of the joint meeting of the boards and a plan for consultations between foreign ministries for 2023.

The agreement between Belarus and Russia on general principles of indirect taxation, concluded in October 2022, envisages the creation of a supranational tax committee to monitor compliance with agreements on VAT and excise taxes, and work towards a common framework.

On January 16th, a joint tactical flight exercise was conducted by Russian and Belarusian aviation elements of “regional grouping of troops”. Several sources also report personnel transfer from Russia to Belarus, including secretly, in tank cars.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of leading Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries to the most topical and relevant issues, including on behind the scenes processes ongoing in Belarus, in Russian and English.
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