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24 December 2019, 15:17

Lukashenko explains Belarus' value for Russia

MINSK, 24 December (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko explained Belarus' value for Russia as he gave an interview to editor-in-chief of the Ekho Moskvy radio station Aleksei Venediktov, BelTA learned.

U.S. dollars instead of Russian rubles

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Belarus buys goods and energy resources from Russia for U.S. dollars. Belarus offered to make settlements in Russian rubles (after all Russia declares the need for the single currency) but was denied this opportunity. “No, they want to be paid in U.S. dollars. I say: here is is the essence of your monetary union," the president said.

Aleksei Venediktov was surprised by this situation. “You are not joking, are you?" he asked.

“I am honest with you. They really do not have an answer to that either. You were right to be surprised. It seems odd: we buy gas from you, and we should pay for it with U.S. dollars,” the head of state replied.

Support for Russian enterprises

Belarus buys not only oil and gas from Russia but also a wide range of component parts for its engineering industry. About 10 million people work at Russian enterprises which are focused on cooperation with Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. “If we count them, together with their families, this will make about 40 million Russians who are well aware that Belarusians buy goods from them for finishing production. Is that important? It is," the head of state said.

Military cooperation

There are two Russian military bases in Belarus. How much have you paid us for using these bases during the time since the collapse of the Soviet Union?

“I do not know. Is this a highly classified information?" Alexei Venediktov asked.

“This is not. The answer is zero,” the head of state said. “For example, you officially pay some $200 million for Baikonur which you use to launch rockets. You also maintain the city.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarus has never insisted on any money from Russia for its military units in Belarus. “The defense of Belarus and Russia is sacred,” he said.

To shield Russia from the western direction Belarus has to buy ammunition from it, the president said. Russia was not ready to support its Belarusian partners here. “We are now buying 12 or 14 Su-30 aircraft from Russia for our own money, the head of state added.

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