Russia's determination to make pragmatism the basis of its relations with Belarus is undermining the foundation of the Belarusian-Russian Union State, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on April 20 in his televised annual address to the National Assembly and the Belarusian people.
Russia was and remains the main political and economic partner of Belarus, Mr. Lukashenka stressed.
To develop relations within the Union State, Belarus kept increasing its exports to Russia, sparing no thought for the future and becoming dependent on Russian raw materials and energy resources, he said. "We concluded hundreds of agreements to ensure equal rights for economic entities and transparent conditions for mutual trade," Mr. Lukashenka said. "This was applauded by everybody in the Kremlin, including the previous and the current president."
However, the situation has changed drastically and the Russian government has decisively begun to reorient bilateral relations toward pragmatic and market principles, Mr. Lukashenka said. Russia's understanding of pragmatism is often different from its classical definitions, he stressed.
Belarus has encountered "systematic actions that put into question the survivability of our state," Mr. Lukashenka said. "Customs duties, which are in fact prohibitive, have been imposed on oil and petroleum products," he said. "They consistently force us out of the Russian market and try to isolate us from Eurasian transit routes."
Higher energy prices have affected the competitive capacity of Belarusian manufacturers in the Russian market, Mr. Lukashenka said.
"In these murky waters, oligarchic groups, which basically started these intrigues, shamelessly try to snatch a piece of our economy," he said.