On April 22, Vladimir Putin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka discussed bilateral ties in a phone call on Monday.
The press services’ reports on the conversation are quite terse; according to the Kremlin, the sides discussed current issues in the development of Russian-Belarusian cooperation. They also touched upon the international order, Minsk added.
At the end of 2018, the Belarusian-Russian relations significantly deteriorated. In late December. there were some meetings of Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader pressed for ‘further integration’ while his Belarusian counterpart insisted on reducing gas prices and getting compensation for the tax maneuver. The talks seem to have ended in deadlock.
In mid February, Lukashenka spent three days in Sochi where he repeatedly met with Vladimir Putin. They were reported to be discussing some of the most pressing issues, but no breakthrough was made.
Apparently, another crisis is currently developing between the two countries. Two weeks ago, Alyaksandr Lukashenka compared Russia’s ‘certain actions’, i.e. imposing temporary restrictions on the imports of food products from Belarus, to sanctions. In response, he gave orders to start repairs of the Druzhba pipeline if necessary. In turn, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak called the potential blocking of the oil transit from Russia via the pipeline inappropriate force majeure and noted that Russia had options for redirecting oil from the Druzhba to ports.
A day earlier, the Belarusian side requested an official meeting with representatives of Russia’s Transneft over the low quality of oil delivered.