Russia will provide Belarus with a $ 1.5 billion loan
. This stated Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi. According to Putin, the finance ministers will work out technical issues.
Commenting on the events in Belarus, where mass protests are taking place against the officially announced victory of Lukashenko in the presidential elections, Putin said that "only Belarusians themselves, with no outside prompts are to sort the situation in the country out." At the same time, the Russian president noted that Russia views Belarus as its closest ally and "will fulfill the agreements arising from the treaty on the Union State and the CSTO."
Lukashenko thanked Putin and the Russian authorities in response, as he put it, for their support in the post-election period. "A friend is known in trouble", he literally said. Lukashenko said he would tell Putin about protests, adding that, in his opinion, the situation in the country was under control. “These events have shown us that we need to stay closer to our older brother,” he added, referring to Russia.
Putin and Lukashenko also discussed joint military exercises that are currently taking place in Belarus and Putin stressed that after their completion, Russian troops will return to their places of deployment.
Earlier, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that the countries are agreeing to refinance the Belarusian debt to Russia for $ 1 billion. The amount of $ 1.5 billion almost exactly coincides with the amount that the Belarusian authorities had to spend in August to support the national currency. In just a month, Belarus lost $ 1.4 billion, or 15% of its gold and foreign exchange reserves.
Open Media, Russia's total losses from supporting the Lukashenko regime over 25 years amount to at least $ 98.7 billion in nominal terms and taking into account inflation, in 2019 prices it reaches $ 116.1 billion.
Before the meeting started, it was reported that it would be held without journalists but the RT channel showed a recording
of the conversation between Putin and Lukashenko, apparently before the start of negotiations. The negotiations are now continuing behind closed doors.
On Monday morning Lukashenko flew from Minsk to Sochi to meet with Putin. Negotiations began after 14:00 Moscow time.
This is Lukashenko's first trip abroad after the August 9th elections, after which mass protests against official results have been taking place in Belarus for more than a month. Western countries, like the Belarusian opposition, did not recognise the results presidential elections pointing to large-scale fraud.
The Belarusian opposition and a number of Western countries fear that Lukashenko in the current situation may make big concessions to Putin on the issue of integration, which could actually lead to the subordination of Minsk to Moscow. Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Lukashenko's rival in the August 9th elections, stated about the meeting of the two presidents: “I would like to recall Vladimir Putin that no matter what decisions taken or agreements reached during the Sochi meeting, they would have no force. All agreements signed with the illegitimate Lukashenko will be revised by the new government. I am very sorry that you decided to conduct a dialogue with the dictator, and not with the Belarusian people. "
In December 2013, Putin agreed with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych that Russia would provide Ukraine with a $ 15 billion loan. 3 billion have been paid. Two months later, Yanukovych fled the country, being actually overthrown as a result of the Maidan. After the annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of hostilities in the Donbas, Ukraine refused to return the $ 3 billion received by Yanukovych. Litigation over this money continues.