Moscow hints at Belarus merging with Russia in exchange for common energy prices. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko revealed the details of his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi last week.
“We will never agree to that,” the president stressed.
Recall that Russia and Belarus have been discussing possible deeper integration in a union state for around two decades, but have failed to agree on key points.
Cheap prices for sovereignty
The president also remarked that he is criticized for undermining integration although he had been its initiator.
“What do you mean by integration? For me, economic integration is when we buy resources in Russia (spare parts for MTZ tractors, BelAZ components), make tractors, cars, and sell them on the common market.
And we have equal prices. This is what integration is. How do people see integration? Free movement and no borders. Pensions and benefits just as if we were one country. We’ve accomplished that,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
Russia has started putting economic pressure on Belarus from different directions. They even forbid to show Belarusian products at their expos, the president noted.
Oil and integration
Alexander Lukashenko also noted that during the negotiations in Sochi, Vladimir Putin doubted that Belarus would continue buying oil from other countries.
“Why would you do it if it is still more expensive than Russian oil?” he wondered. “In order not to kneel down every year on 31 December,” the head of state explained.
The head of state stated that Belarus will continue diversifying purchases. As to integration, the president noted that the sides keep working on purely economic integration issues.
Why does Putin need Belarus?
Lukashenko also commented on conspiracy theories about Vladimir Putin willing to hold on to power by forcing Belarus’ merger with Russia
“Putin has no such intentions. And even if he does, he and I agreed that Belarus will never join Russia. I joked then that the merger is possible if Russia becomes a part of Belarus, if the Belarusian president becomes the president of the united state.
It doesn’t have to be Lukashenko. (…) Why can Belarus be merged with Russia while Russia cannot be merged with Belarus? If we offered this alternative to Russians, they might accept the offer.”
Explore the topic:
The Belarusian leader once again stressed that he is not going to be the last president and until he is, Belarus will remain sovereign and independent.
“Remember that your president will never be the last one. You can already start thinking about your future life after I am gone. But even if I live and am not the president, I will fight to keep Belarus sovereign and independent.”