Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin are close to agreeing on a new loan to Belarus, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reports.
Preparations for the two leaders’ first meeting in 2021 are underway, press secretary Dmitry Peskov said earlier. Its exact date is not known yet.
According to Kommersant sources, the meeting is likely to take place on February 22 or 25 in Sochi. The Belarusian side is seeking to to get access to the rest of the funds which Moscow previously allocated for the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant in Astravets, the article reads. The sum in question ranges from $3 bn to $ 3.5 bn.
Extending the new loan has been practically approved; its volume, interest rates, and terms are now being specified, the sources say.
In mid-September 2020, amid post-election protests in Belarus, Vladimir Putin met with Alyaksandr Lukashenka and promised to provide a loan of $ 1.5 bn ‘in this challenging situation’. In late December, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed the agreement on allocating a $ 1 bn loan to Belarus; it is to be issued in two tranches: in 2020 and 2021. Belarus has already received the first tranche of that loan.