January 29 – February 4, 2018
Belarus-Russia relations

Russo-Belarusian relations developed amid the threat of enhanced sanctions against Russia

The situation has gotten better
Russo-Belarusian relations developed amid the threat of enhanced sanctions against Russia

Amid the publication of the “Kremlin report” by the US, relations with Russia developed in a constructive manner. Belarus and Russia are gradually moving towards harmonising national interests, avoiding sharp conflicts over issues, mutually beneficial solutions to which have not yet been found.

Russian and Belarusian Prosecutor Generals (and Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Semashko) have discussed measures to reduce payment arrears by Russian enterprises to Belarusian companies. Belarusian Prosecutor General Koniuk noted that Russian Prosecutor General Chaika assisted Belarus in resolving issues related to overdue accounts receivable, as well as the Russian Investigative Committee, arbitration, and civil courts.

That said, Vice Prime Minister Semashko and Prosecutor General Koniuk had a war of words over the arrears issue, which accurately reflected the difference in approaches to cooperation with Russia among the Belarusian establishment. Koniuk expressed concerns about increased shipments without payment, which could either mean low demand for Belarusian products, or a collision with Russian companies to evade Belarusian taxes. In turn, Semashko insisted on an increase in supplies to Russia, saying that the efficiency and payback for these supplies was a secondary issue. Apparently, he had in mind Soviet practices and thought that somehow Russia would compensate for Belarus’ losses.

Despite the fact that some part of the Belarusian nomenclature believes that anything Russian is a priori more valuable than Belarusian, they do not give up attempts to bargain benefits for Belarus. In particular, the Belarusian State Military Industry continues to seek ways to supply Belarusian produces within the Russian Defence Procurement. In addition, Belarusian dairy producers study and respond flexibly to changes in the Russian market.

Harmonisation within the EEU continued, too. At the meeting of the EEU intergovernmental council last week, states discussed the marking of goods in the EEU, the pension agreement, the lifting of restrictions on mutual trade, approaches to the digital economy and crypto-currencies. Regarding the latter, it should be noted that, apparently, Russia is somewhat alarmed by the Belarusian Decree No 7 on the digital economy. Russia is envisaging to adopt the domestic regulation in this regard in September this year and Medvedev urged the EEU states “not to fall into euphoria” and not to expect creating national lacunae, but rather develop mechanisms for strengthening mutual trust in this sphere.

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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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