No gain without pain: Putin suspends loan after Lukashenka’s refusal to deploy Russian airbase in Belarus?

Alyaksandr Lukashenka returned from Moscow after the ‘constructive’ talks with Vladimir Putin.

“The both presidents said that the talks were held in a ‘constructive atmosphere’. Putin laid special emphasis on the fact that relations between Russia and Belarus had always been strategically beneficial to the sides; the Kremlin sincerely believes that nothing will thwart such policy, the official statement says. In his turn, Lukashenka said he had every confidence in Putin <…> The leaders of the two countries are like an open book for each other conversations; each can easily express his views on any given topic, he said.”

However, the main topic of the conversation was not revealed. Might they have discussed the deployment of a Russian airbase in Belarus? To put it mildly, Lukashenka’s and Putin’s views on the issue are very different.

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If the Kremlin spokesman’s words are anything to go by, there question of the base was not negotiated. In addition, there is no related information in the final statement. It includes only a vague notion of ‘active development of military and technical cooperation.

In this context, the statement saying that ‘Belarus and Russia hold similar stances on the crisis settlement in Ukraine and Syria sounds hollow. In the case of the two closest allies there is a world of difference between ‘similar’and ‘common’ positions.

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They might become closer at the next meeting of Lukashenka and Putin scheduled for December 21 as part of the CSTO summit.

Perhaps, the meeting will also end in the solution of some economic issues. A of today, none of the parties can boast of allowance of credit to Belarus. Lately, Russia-controlled Eurasian Anti-Crisis Fund has suspended a decision to grant $2.5 bn loan to Minsk.

Experts in Belarus and Russia agree that a simple dependence exists: “If Lukashenka gives his consent to the deployment of a Russian base, Belarus will receive a loan”. The majority, however, admits that it is only a matter of time. How long will Lukashenka manage to stall for time? That is the question.


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