Belarusian joins Ukrainians in fighting Russia
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The prime ministers of both countries reaffirmed their commitment to a union state and stressed stated the importance of cooperation in the face of sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine. Western nations have taken unprecedented measures to punish Russia and its ally Belarus over the conflict, posing a grave threat to both countries’ economic health. As the sanctions bite, there have also been reports of Belarus amassing troops along its border with war-torn Ukraine.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin spoke of Moscow’s commitments after meeting Belarusian counterpart Roman Golovchenko.
“We are taking coordinated measures to protect our economic security and the technological sovereignty of Russia and Belarus,” he said on Monday, March 14.
“Above all, we consider it necessary to strengthen integration in the union state,” he added.
The reaffirmed alliance sparked worries the Belarusian military could be called in to support Russian troops in the invasion of fight Ukraine.
President Lukashenko visited Moscow on Friday, March 11, when the Russian leader pledged updated military equipment.
This stoked fears that the weapons could be used by the Belarusian forces currently at the border with Ukraine.
But Belarus’ deputy defence minister Viktor Gulevich has insisted the movement of troops does not evidence an invasion plot.
He said: “The movement of troops is in no way connected with the preparation, let alone participation of the Belarusian military in a special military operation in Ukraine.”
The two Slav neighbours previously formed a “union state” and have been in talks for years about becoming closer, a process that accelerated after Vladimir Putin propped up Alexander Lukashenko in 2020 when his rule was threatened by months of mass street protests.
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Western nations imposed sanctions on both countries after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a special military operation designed to de-militarise and “de-Nazify” the former Soviet republic.
“We are grateful to our Belarusian friends for their constructive position on the situation around Ukraine,” Russian Prime Minister Mishustin said on Monday, March 14. “For us this is very important and valuable.”
“I am convinced that the illegitimate economic sanctions will not hinder the advancement of integration in the union state and the further development of our fraternal relations,” he added.
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Belarusian Prime Minister Golovchenko appealed to Russia for economic support, saying Belarus was ready to implement the agreements on economic integration contained within the union state’s framework.
“Given the high vulnerability of the Belarusian economy to external shocks, we are counting on support from the Russian Federation at this difficult time,” he said.
He also called for urgent implementation of support measures including delaying the restructuring of Belarusian debt, transitioning to a new pricing system for Russian oil and fixing natural gas prices for Minsk in Russian roubles pegged to Russian domestic prices.
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