Russia Releases $500m Loan to Belarus as West Imposes Sanctions
The second $500-million tranche of Russia’s state loan to Belarus has been approved, the money will be transferred in the immediate future, but the issues of additional aid to Minsk by Moscow was not raised, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Saturday after the talks held by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi.
According to Peskov, the money will go to Minsk “in the immediate future.” “At least, there are no obstacles left, everything is agreed,” the Russian presidential spokesman said.
The Kremlin spokesman pointed out that it had been announced “well before all those stories with the plane” and confirmed the deadline of late June, which had been reported earlier. Nevertheless, Peskov could not give an exact date, as that is a matter of financial authorities.“President Lukashenko did not come up with any requests for additional economic aid. The issue was not raised in this way,” the Kremlin spokesman said.
“There were mainly two major topics, namely the further development of trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Belarus as well as the fight against the pandemic,” Peskov said.
In particular, the talks touched upon “the enhancement to economic cooperation in the area of such instruments as the customs and taxation authorities.”
“[They] discussed general approaches to the basic principles of organizing the customs and taxes,” the presidential spokesman said.
A single currency
The transition of Russia and Belarus to a single currency was not touched upon at the meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi, Kremlin Spokesman told.
“No, it was not raised,” he said in response to a reporter’s question.
According to the Kremlin spokesman, the two presidents held a formal summit meeting on Friday and went on to informal talks on Saturday. The leaders focused on the economy and the fight against the pandemic.
Last December, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed an order granting Belarus a $1 billion interstate loan. It is provided in two tranches of $500 million each in 2020 and 2021. On December 30, Belarus received the first tranche of the state loan in the amount equivalent to $500 million. Additionally, on October 16, Belarus received a Russia-brokered $500-million loan from the Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development (EFSD) for up to 10 years.
Russia has agreed to release $500m in credit to Belarus and look to increase the number of flights between the two countries as the Kremlin doubled down on its support for Alexander Lukashenko after his forced landing of a passenger flight that has sparked western condemnation.
Russian president Vladimir Putin hosted Lukashenko in Sochi on Saturday, treating his guest to a yacht trip on the Black Sea a day after the two men held talks for more than five hours.
Russia’s support for Lukashenko was in stark contrast to US and EU condemnation and could complicate preparations for a summit between Putin and US president Joe Biden in Geneva next month, which has been billed as an effort to normalise relations between Moscow and the west.
The EU has banned Belarus state airline Belavia from its airports and pledged to impose additional sanctions against the country, while Biden on Friday reimposed “full blocking sanctions” against nine Belarus state-owned companies.
“President Lukashenko informed [Putin] in detail about what happened to the Ryanair plane,” Peskov told reporters, adding that the talks were “very constructive, rich in content”.
Russia this week forced at least two European airlines to cancel flights to Moscow after it failed to approve new flight plans involving a detour around Belarus.
Source: Financial Times
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