SVETLOGORSK, 14 February (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko revealed the details of his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi as he talked to the staff of Svetlogorsk Pulp and Board Mill on 14 February, BelTA has learned.
“We discussed many issues, including those from old days”
According to the Belarusian head of state, the format of the talks was unusual. First, the presidents met for breakfast. The negotiations during breakfast lasted for about an hour and a half. “We discussed many issues, including those from old days,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said back in Sochi after the talks. Now the president explained that the meeting touched on the problems from the middle of the last century and then proceeded to the modern threats in the region and other parts of the world, including the situation in Ukraine. “Our people were hurt. The war is absolutely stupid, fratricidal. This should stop," the Belarusian leader stressed.
"We discussed many things, comparing our points of view. I carefully implied that we had done a lot together. We defended our country. I reminded him how many people died, how many villages were burned together with their residents. He said that almost 70% of the losses were Russians," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“The things that we created in Soviet times were alienated overnight”
Then the leaders touched upon cooperation in the Soviet period and proceeded to the problems in the oil sector. “I recalled that people from Gomel, Vitebsk, Mogilev, and Minsk worked to develop the oil and gas deposits [in Russia]. The things that we created in Soviet times were alienated overnight. Today we are forced to buy these products at the world prices, and Russia sells them at half price or one-third of the price on its domestic market,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The president also drew attention to the point that Russia became the successor to the Soviet Union. The country has all nuclear weapons, all foreign Soviet property passed to it. Other post-Soviet republics got nothing from it. “All the money was there, and then we were cheated with the Soviet ruble. I recalled all this,” the head of state said. "We have done a lot and suffered a lot.”
In his opinion, as the successor to the USSR, Russia should not walk away from the promises of the Soviet government. In particular, the president does not understand why Belarus, who suffered the worst from the Chernobyl accident, does not get support. Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested that Russia supply gas to the affected Belarusian territories at a lower price than to other regions of the country. “People are not yet able to use wood or other fuels because of this disaster," he explained.
“I want nothing extra”
The talks between the two leaders were delayed also because the Russian delegation was unable to fly to Sochi in time due to bad weather. However, the talks continued in their absence.
With full delegations present, the talks focused on the situation around the Belarusian nuclear power plant. The Russian side has disrupted the construction deadlines, and Belarus is now proposing to cut the interest rate on the loan allocated for its construction and postpone the terms of its payment. Or there is another scenario: the Russian general contractor can be issued a considerable fine for violations. In Sochi, the parties agreed to find a consensus on this issue. However, they have not found common ground yet.
The next part of the negotiations was devoted to gas prices. “Now these Telegram channels call me names, reproach me for bargaining, giving nothing in return. I do not want anything extra. We are in a union, not only in the Union of Belarus and Russia, but also in the Eurasian Economic Union. We have agreed that we will trade in goods and services without customs duties. What a union it is if there are no equal conditions for people, enterprises. Your enterprise has gas, for example, at $200 while similar enterprises in Russia - $100 or $80. How do we compete with them?” the president asked. “This means we have to use less electricity, work in the cold, pay people less, and so on. Is this a level playing field? This is what I fight for and what I want, not cheaper prices,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.