MINSK, 19 December (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko explained in detail the importance of Belarusian-Russian cooperation at a briefing for journalists following the talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Minsk. The Belarusian leader stressed, the parties laid the foundation for rapid progress in the future, BelTA reports.
"With regard to someone is absorbing anyone... The question arises, for what? Russia has always met us halfway. There is not a single issue that has remained unresolved today. We are meeting the Russian Federation halfway in the most difficult moment," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
"If someone is hatching up plans to tear us apart, to drive a wedge between us, they will not succeed. In 2020, it was not Russia that attacked us around the perimeter. It was not Russia. Russia extended a helping hand to us. We were attacked from there [from the West]. They wanted to deprive us of both independence and sovereignty. So what is there to say? Just one more time: they will not be able to break our relationship. It will only strengthen. Today, in fact, together with the president and our colleagues, we have created a base for the future rapid progress. We will do it," the Belarusian leader stressed.
The president noted that the main thing is the result. Using specific examples, he explained the importance of today's talks for Belarus. "We addressed a number of burning issues with Vladimir Vladimirovich and members of his delegation," the Belarusian president said.
For example, energy. "Do we produce gas? No. We get natural gas from the fraternal Russia. Do we produce 25 million tonnes of oil that we have the capacities to process? We have two modernized, most advanced refineries. Can we provide them with raw material? No, we cannot. Who did we contact? The Russian Federation. We didn't just contact. Okay, volumes are not a problem. We also need good prices. Selling petroleum products is the problem today too. So on and so forth. We discussed these issues and made a decision on them," the Belarusian head of state said.
Vladimir Putin supported the theses of the Belarusian leader and drew attention to another aspect beneficial to Russia. "Indeed, Belarus has no oil and gas. But it has oil refineries. At some point, we needed additional volumes of petroleum products in our market - gasoline and so on. We got them from your refineries. This is actually a two-way street and a very effective one," he said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko continued to list the topics of cooperation in the field of transport. In particular, he touched on cabotage transportation. "The Russian president immediately instructed the government to finalize and make a decision that is beneficial for us. These are 25,000 carriers, this is about 100,000 people together with families," he said.
However, it was not oil and gas that was the main item, but industrial policy, Aleksandr Lukashenko said. "We should not create parallel manufactures but cooperate. So that no one will ever dictate their terms to us, set up their shops here and then quit them all and leave like they did. Isn't it profitable for us? Russia will do without us. We won't do without Russia. We agreed that we will work on an equal footing."
In a similar vein, the president spoke on the issue of security and defense. “Let us be frank: are we able to defend our independence and sovereignty alone without Russia? We are not. He did not say no to us in a difficult moment. Now they will start howling that ‘Putin has come to scare someone here'. You will see this after our statements. He [Vladimir Putin] came to Belarus like our close friend.”
The talks also focused on nuclear energy and cooperation in this sector.
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov spoke at the meeting about the cooperation between the countries in foreign policy. “We will do it together, as equals, as it has always been,” said the Belarusian leader.
As for his recent frequent meetings with Vladimir Putin, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that they were needed because of the situation. The presidents had to meet frequently to discuss various issues, be it security or economy, given the pressure from the collective West. “We had to coordinate our actions to work the way we did. It worked. In general, someone is probably jealous that Vladimir Vladimirovich and I meet often. Maybe someone would like to meet with him more often. Well, he is open to such meetings. It is just that reasons are needed to meet. This is me quoting his answer to Zelensky. Calm down, everything will be all right. We don't just spend our time idly. Although, we find an hour or two to relax,” the president of Belarus said.
Vladimir Putin said that frequent meetings were needed. He once again stressed a significant increase in trade and high demand for Belarusian goods in the Russian market. “With such an amount of cooperation there are a lot of issues that require constant administrative support both at the high and highest level. Governments deal with these issues almost every day. The volume is colossal. They have done a lot. All we have to do is to set the record straight. It has to be done on a regular basis,” he said.