MINSK, 7 April (BelTA) - Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko took part in the meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State in the Kremlin in Moscow on 6 April. The day before, the Belarusian head of state had held lengthy and fruitful talks with Vladimir Putin. BelTA will tell you about the Belarusian-Russian agenda during those two days, and the most important statements made by the two countries' leaders.
Let us begin, however, with the outcomes. Of course, the focus of the Supreme State Council was on the progress made in the implementation of the main areas of the provisions of the Union State Treaty for 2021-2023 and the 28 Union State programs approved earlier. One of the key novelties is the development of the Union State security concept. The Security Councils of the two countries have been assigned to work on the task. Plans are in place to prepare the document for approval at the meeting of the Supreme State Council in 2024.
The Supreme State Council also considered a number of other issues, including humanitarian issues, and the ones related to the current integration activity.
In general, Dmitry Mezentsev, State Secretary of the Union State, said that the meeting confirmed the special tone, trust, allied nature of interaction, and the special nature of cooperation between national leaders.
SOLVED ISSUES. What did Lukashenko and Putin agree on?
Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin met in Moscow on 5 April. The Belarusian head of state arrived at the Kremlin at about 8 p.m. By tradition journalists were waiting for him at the entrance. The interest in the statements of the Belarusian leader is always high. Quite high-profile statements are often made just like that - on the move.
This time there was no sensation. The president only fatherly asked the journalists if they had had anything to eat. After all, it was rather late already… Having heard in response that Russia always offers a good reception in the Kremlin, he said: “Well, thank God!”
As for the expected duration of the negotiations, Lukashenko predicted that it would not be long, but of course he did not know it for sure. Indeed, is it possible to count on a quick meeting of the two closest allies, even if the heads of state meet and call each other regularly? There is always much to discuss, especially as the international situation constantly throws up new challenges that must be resolved not otherwise than by joint efforts.
The leaders talked for more than six hours, including a working dinner. They meeting ended at 2:15 a.m.
At the start of the meeting open for the media Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “We will overcome everything. To those, who hope or predicted that we would fall, I can say: we haven't fallen. No, things will not be easy. But when were they ever easy? We will endure and will accomplish everything even in microelectronics, which we discussed a year ago when we met in your office to discuss what we should do. It turns out we've found opportunities to keep working. Missiles fly and combat equipment moves in our country and your country. So we will overcome everything. We just need a bit of time. And tomorrow we will sum up our accomplishments. We've definitely earned the salaries we get paid.”
The Belarusian head of state remarked that 80% of the Union State programs had been implemented. Frequent meetings with Vladimir Putin were necessary to prevent slowdowns in the execution of these programs. According to Vladimir Putin, a lot has been achieved as a result of joint work.
Journalists asked Aleksandr Lukashenko about the details of this meeting on 6 April, before the Supreme State Council session. The president said that he and his Russian counterpart had made a decision on all issues. This was also discussed at the beginning of the meeting.
“Dear friends, you know that Vladimir Vladimirovich and I held very important talks yesterday. We discussed some sensitive matters, as journalists say. There are always matters like this. We paid more attention to security issues, the development of the military industry and the defense of the Union State. Those negotiations were fruitful. We came to terms on all issues, and there were more than a dozen of them. Of course, we cannot go into detail. But I believe that you will hear and see everything in the near future,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
GOOD THINGS. What do people often take for granted in the Union State?
Taking into account current circumstances, it is difficult to overestimate the significance of this unique interstate association. Judging from the combination of results accomplished over such a brief period our union is rightfully a leader among other integration associations. This is why it is not surprising that many achievements secured within the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia were borrowed by adjoining integration associations in the CIS space.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “As never before, today it is important for us to fully realize provisions of the treaty on establishing the commonwealth of Belarus and Russia, which was signed during these April days 27 years ago in 1996. This fundamental document became a starting point for further advancement of bilateral relations. And you may remember that I signed the treaty on our union and on the construction of the Union State with Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] already.”
The Belarusian leader noted that by persistently expanding the legal base of interaction, Belarus and Russia have opened up broad thoroughfares for invigorating business, cooperation of scientific circles and art collectives, partnership of youth associations. Freedom of movement of citizens and capital, equal opportunities for education and labor are seen as undeniable advantages of integration by ordinary Belarusians and Russians. Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “I mention that because people often tend to forget about it and believe it is only natural. They forget that no country enjoys in its relations as much as Russia and Belarus have. We freely travel, our people can choose the place to work, and all the relevant matters have been addressed.”
The number of trade transactions is a marker of the success of our economic cooperation. Over the past 27 years trade has increased by more than four and a half times. Industrial cooperation is a key area in bilateral relations. Today it is the ties between more than 8,000 Belarusian and Russian enterprises, hundreds of thousands of jobs.
YOUNG AND EXPERIENCED. What did Lukashenko tell Putin about cooperation in science?
During the years of its existence the Union State has implemented more than 60 joint scientific and technical programs in various areas, including space exploration, information technologies, agriculture, production of materials and devices.
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized the development of cooperation between young scientists of the two countries. Addressing the Russian president, he said: “Young people have held a meeting. I mean what you told me in Minsk. Young scientists have outlined a program of further development. They have started with the student who once posed a question to you. You called to say that we need to move in this direction. We held a meeting of young scientists at the Academy of Sciences, and found a number of important points of contact for the future work.”
‘FRIENDS' LETTING YOU DOWN. How do Belarus and Russia respond to sanctions and pressure from the West?
Many developments are successfully put into production, thus contributing to the implementation of the import substitution program and reducing dependence on Western technologies. Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled that earlier he had discussed with Vladimir Putin an important issue of import substitution in microelectronics. The presidents revisited the matter during the talks in the Kremlin on 5 April. The president emphasized that he had recently studied this topic in detail during his visit to the Planar company in Minsk.
“We've found a way out even in this complicated matter. And in many other ones. This is why we will endure. It is different from creating a vehicle or a tractor. [Microelectronic] products are complicated things. We've learned how to make them, we have the competences. The Soviet Union did all of that. [During the post-Soviet period] we simply relied on the West. Now we recognize they are no friends of ours. We have to make these products ourselves,” the president of Belarus remarked.
He stressed that Belarus and Russia had successfully withstood the first wave of massive economic attacks. There are many examples to prove it. The governments of Belarus and Russia have been working in the anti-crisis mode and have achieved noticeable results in adapting the economy to the new reality and building new trade and logistics routes.
According to the head of state, the failed attempts at an economic blockade were followed by military blackmail in the form of a consistent build-up of NATO forces and means near the Union State border, especially around Kaliningrad Oblast. “The economic blockade was doomed to fail. They sought to do it at a gallop. Had they thought about it thoroughly, they would not have started it, because our economies are self-sufficient. When they realized that they could not subdue us using economic means, they resorted to military pressure. The talks about a possibility of a global armed conflict are becoming more widespread,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
He emphasized that in the context of the political, economic and information warfare unleashed against Belarus and Russia and against the backdrop of the international law crisis and the apparent inaction of international institutions, Belarus and Russia need to defend and promote national interests in an even more coordinated and efficient manner. “In my Address, I openly and directly said: if necessary, we will use everything that we can to defend our states and peoples,” Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled. “And we are not blackmailing anyone. We will just do it,” he added.
Vladimir Putin, in turn, said that the development of a common industrial policy was in full swing. “Aleksandr Grigoryevich [Lukashenko] has been raising this question for many years. And we are moving towards implementing all these issues,” he said.
UNION ANTITERROR. What breaking news did Lukashenko announce at the Supreme State Council meeting?
The president noted that the Union State had developed an effective system of defense and security, within the framework of which the regional grouping of troops (forces) and the unified regional air defense system operated successfully. “Steps taken to strengthen border security have significantly increased the protection of the Union State from international terrorism, uncontrolled migration flows, weapons and ammunition smuggling, drug trafficking, and illegal economic activity,” the Belarusian leader said.
Vladimir Putin said that Russia and Belarus decided to extend some military agreements and would continue to build up their cooperation in defense and security and to expand cooperation in the military and technical area. “It certainly meets the fundamental interests of our countries and peoples,” the Russian head of state said. “Aleksandr Grigoryevich [Lukashenko] raised the issue of extending some of our previous agreements. I fully and completely support this and for my part I ask our Security Council to work on everything that the president of Belarus has set today as a priority task in this area.”
At the meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State in Moscow Aleksandr Lukashenko disclosed some details of a Belarus-Russia operation to detain a terrorist.
“Yesterday I told the president [of Russia] that a great number of weapons from Ukraine is flooding into Russia as well as into Belarus through Russia. Our border with Ukraine is sealed. Weapons went through Bryansk Oblast and other regions. Together with Alexander Vasilievich Bortnikov [Director of the Federal Security Service of Russia] we have completed the operation today. We will inform the public about it in the near future. You know, we detained this terrorist who entered the territory of Belarus and was heading to another country through Russia,” the head of state said.
According to the president, the KGB and the FSB carried out a joint operation. “We have tracked down the whole network. The Russians are finishing their part of the work here, in Russia, and are working on some other things. So they won't leave us alone. There are caches - in Belarus and in Russia – containing weapons and explosives. They come and take it. That was how it happened in St. Petersburg [the explosion in a cafй that killed blogger and war correspondent Vladlen Tatarsky]. Most likely, no one transports ammunition and explosives in their pockets across the border. There are caches here. And we have detected several of them in our country. Therefore, we discussed these matters in great detail yesterday. I think we will pull through,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.
He also noted that the two countries conducted a coordinated foreign policy in the international arena. “Our cooperation in foreign policy is an example to follow for others,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
LONG GAME. How will the Union State be responding to the information war?
The Belarusian president reiterated the need for a media holding in the Union State as he spoke at the meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State in the Kremlin.
“Media resources - we also have experts discussing this topic. Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] and I agreed back in St. Petersburg that we needed a large-scale media holding in the Union State. We need to set up this media holding company,” the president said.
“Yes, it may not be cheap to some extent. But if we want a good coverage of our agenda (we have a lot to talk about), we need to set up this media holding without affiliating it to any organizations. This is what we have agreed on. This is, however, a project that cannot be implemented right away. We need certain funds for it,” the Belarusian leader added.
“In what concerns information confrontation and the formation of a strong ideological support for our Union State construction, a lot has been done by our citizens. We have no right to lose the battle for the minds and hearts of our people on the printed, TV, radio and digital battlefields,” the Belarusian leader said. “The ideological confrontation between East and West will not weaken even after the guns fall silent. It is to stay that way for a long time,” he added.
RADICAL PROPOSAL. What things does Lukashenko agree on with Macron?
Ahead of the Supreme State Council meeting, the reporters asked the Belarusian president to comment on French President Emmanuel Macron's statements made during his trip to China, where he said that no country could deploy nuclear weapons in the territory of another country.
“I agree with him. This is why Americans should remove all the nuclear weapons from five or six countries where they are deployed. And that's it. All in all, I am quite a radical about that. I believe that nuclear weapons should be dragged into one pile and should be destroyed literally within a certain period of time. That's it. It is easy to blab like this comrade of ours. Everyone can do it. This is why okay, let's pile everything together and destroy it. It is the best option. But for now we will act like them,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Reporters also approached State Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus Aleksandr Volfovich with a question about nuclear weapons. Asked when Belarus will get nuclear warheads, Aleksandr Volfovich said: “When our leaders make the decision. The commander-in-chief of the Russian Federation and the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Belarus. It is up to them to make the decision.”
“The number of warheads doesn't matter. What matters is how they will be used and whether they will be used correctly. And we know how to use them. And whether they will have to be used or not… I don't think things will go so far that they will need to be used. After all, warheads and other tactical or strategic nuclear munitions are primarily designed as a deterrent, designed to ensure security of both Russia and Belarus,” Aleksandr Volfovich said.