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Putin and Lukashenko meet on the ski slopes

© Belga

Some six months after the nationwide demonstrations against Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko, the Belarusian leader met with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, both stressing the close cooperation between the two countries.

“Not a day goes by without our colleagues talking to each other and solving problems,” Putin said during a meeting in Sochi, by the Black Sea.

After the meeting, which lasted about an hour, the two heads of state went skiing.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Vladimir Putin announced, among other things, deliveries of the Russian vaccine against Covid, Sputnik V. “We must combine our efforts, also with our European colleagues,” he said. Alexander Lukashenko, in turn, said his country wanted to develop its own vaccine by Autumn.

© Belga

The last time the two leaders met was in September. At the time, Putin had promised billions of Rubles in loans to his neighbouring country which was in financial difficulty. Today, the Kremlin leader said that cooperation between the industries of the two countries is more important than “direct Russian financial support.”

Belarus’ economy is heavily dependent on Russia, which supplies it with oil and gas. Moscow, for its part, sees Belarus as a strategically important buffer zone.

Since the presidential election on 9 August, Belarus has been going through a serious political crisis. Lukashenko declared himself the winner, but the pro-democracy movement sees Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as the real winner.

Mass protests have taken place since the elections, and the European Union no longer recognises Lukashenko as the country’s president.

The Brussels Times