Updated at 17:19,07-01-2021

Lukashenka meets one-on-one with Putin in Sochi


Lukashenka meets one-on-one with Putin in Sochi
Photo by kremlin.ru
Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a one-on-one meeting in Russia’s Black Sea coastal resort of Sochi on August 22.

“I am happy to see you,” Mr. Putin told his Belarusian counterpart at the start of the meeting, according to a video broadcast on the Belarus One television channel late on Wednesday. “I am happy with an opportunity to talk to you one-on-one about bilateral issues and our problems of the international nature. I mean groupings where our countries work together. And also broader international issues.”

“You and I meet each other regularly but yet every such meeting has an importance and is very important to us. I am very glad to see you,” said the Russian president.

Mr. Lukashenka, for his part, thanked Mr. Putin for his invitation to come to Sochi. “However banal that may sound, thank you Vladimir Vladimirovich for your invitation to take our minds off our daily, presidents’ problems,” he said. “I come here every year, and there is a piece of Belarus’ land close to you, behind the fence. And I try to come here at the first opportunity to get distracted for three to four days from problems that always pile up. They are the same. And you have plenty of them, only on a larger scale.”

Mr. Lukashenka said that Belarus and Russia were not facing a growing tangle of problems. “We do have something to talk about but I would not say that problems keep piling up in our relations,” he stressed. “We have problems that are solved quickly and that remain unsolved for long periods. But as I have concluded recently, no new problems have popped up, fortunately. But still no one will solve these problems without us. And we also often have to solve others’ problems too. So we do have something to talk about. And I will be happy if you fill me in on international relations, your meetings, your impressions and joint action in the international arena.”

In a phone conversation on July 23, Mr. Putin invited his Belarusian counterpart to visit Russia in the near future. In particular, it was said that the two leaders may meet in Sochi to discuss in detail the "entire spectrum of bilateral relations."

While speaking to a group of newly appointed top government officials that included Prime Minister Syarhey Rumas on August 18, Mr. Lukashenka attacked Russian media outlets for speculating about his coming meeting with Mr. Putin. “I don’t go to the Kremlin to give reports,” he said. “We have agreed on our relations. We have the most advanced relations possible - within the union of Belarus and Russia. We have concluded plenty of, more than a hundred agreements, we have a certain [legal] framework. We can reach verbal agreements and implement them. We have very good and close relations.”

Mr. Lukashenka warned that Belarus would not become part of Russia as long as he remained president. “If Russia has signed an agreement with Belarus, we demand that [the agreement] is implemented immaculately. And I openly say that we will never become any other country’s vassals.”

“We can exist in a union with Russia and solve our common tasks without problems. This is the closest country for us. We are de fact one people, we - the Belarusians, the Russians and the Ukrainians - have the same root.”

“We don’t want to have a repeat of what Ukraine has with Russia, of this conflict,” he stressed. “We don’t need that. And Russia does not need that either, as its only 1,000-kilometer-long window facing the west is Belarus. Russia needs a stable Belarus.”