June 4 – June 10, 2018
Belarus-Russia relations

Russia prompts her terms of trade before the Supreme State Council of the Union State; media forecast resignation of Ambassador Surikov

The situation got worse
Russia prompts her terms of trade before the Supreme State Council of the Union State; media forecast resignation of Ambassador Surikov

Rosselkhonadzor imposed restrictions on Belarusian diary supplies and agriculture ministers negotiated the terms of their resumption. Ambassador Surikov, like the Eurasian Economic Commission sided with Belarus. By Russia’s behest, the media is discussing the prospects for replacing Ambassador Surikov and allegedly the Kremlin’s future attempts to influence the change of power in Belarus.

On June 6th, Rosselkhoznadzor introduced temporary restrictions on the Belarusian diary supply if its volume exceeded 2.5 litres, that is, on the supply of raw diary materials for packaging (or processing) and further sales. The restrictions have affected the final production of Glubokoe and Bereza dairy mills and were lifted in relation to the “Dairy Hills” products. This step falls within the mainstream policy aimed at compelling Belarus to centralise the supply of dairy raw materials to Russia. However, restrictions are likely to be partially lifted soon, and negotiations between agricultural authorities to settle the supply terms are likely to resume.

The Belarusian media saw a sign of worsening relations between Belarus and Russia in that Putin made his first foreign visits after the inauguration to Austria and China, not to Belarus. Due to Makey’s statement, Brussels is expecting further bargain over the deployment of a Russian military base in Belarus. In addition, by Nezgar, Russian Telegram channel’s behest, the possible replacement of Ambassador Surikov and the Kremlin’s interference in the succession of power in Belarus is being discussed (the channel actively participates in domestic wars among Russian elites, in particular, seeking the resignation of V. Surkov from the Ukrainian direction).

Stepped up information pressure on Belarus is likely to be used by conflicting domestic elites in Russia, to strengthen / weaken ruling groups in Belarus and to heat the interest of the audience. Apparently, the hypothetical military base deployment and the likely interference in the Belarusian power system are issues which have been invented by the media. However, the fact that Putin postponed his visit to Belarus, really indicates that Russia has grown cool towards Belarus. That said, the lowering of mutual expectations and a separation in relations is an ongoing trend of the last three years.

As regards the alleged replacement of Surikov, it could not be ruled out. However, neither former Agriculture Minister Tkachev, nor V. Surkov are likely to replace him when or if such a replacement takes place. The next ambassador is likely to be like Surikov, a career Russian diplomat with a regional background.

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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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