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14 Nov 2019

Lukashenko holds meeting to discuss Belarus-Russia border

Lukashenko holds meeting to discuss Belarus-Russia border

MINSK, 14 November (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Chairman of the State Border Committee Anatoly Lappo and State Secretary of the Security Council Stanislav Zas to discuss Belarus-Russia cooperation in border matters on 14 November, BelTA has learned.

In 1995 Belarus and Russia signed the agreement on joint efforts in protecting Belarus' state border. The agreement was automatically renewed every five years. The document is running out in November this year. Before the document is renewed for another term, the parties need to take stock of the interaction between the border services of Belarus and Russia. Earlier Aleksandr Lukashenko had given an instruction to discuss this matter with Russian partners.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that Belarus honors 100% of its commitments. This pertains to combating illegal trade in narcotic drugs and weapons, illegal migration, and to searching for stolen cars. “The border service of Belarus operates many times more efficiently on the common border. From the very first meters of our common fatherland we protect our interests and the interests of our main ally – the Russian Federation. It seems there are no issues, but other agencies report that issues are there,” the president said.

On third-country nationals crossing the common border

The head of state noted that some third-country nationals face problems crossing the Belarus-Russia border. “In other words, if a foreign citizen (from Austria, Germany or Poland) cross the border near Brest, he/she can be refused entry to Russia near Smolensk even if he/she has the Russian visa. This national has to go back and to enter Russia through the Latvia-Russia border or, which is weird, through the Ukraine-Russia border. How come? Everything seems to be fine, but this issue remains,” the president said.

According to the head of state, this situation raises eyebrow, after all, Russians admit that Belarusians protect the border better than they do. “There is a common space of Belarus and Russia. But they say: Go back and enter through Latvia. It is absolutely absurd. We need to tackle this issue together with Russians,” Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined.

On commercial vehicle queues at the Belarus-Russia border

Another issue that should be addressed involves commercial vehicle queues at the Belarus-Russia border. The president was informed that such queues can be as long as 10km and more. “Trucks crossing Belarus en route to Russia line up for border control. This involves not only border checks, but also customs clearance, phytosanitary control and other procedures. How come, if we agreed on the common border? A vehicle is checked inside and out near Brest – we know where it is heading and what it is carrying. We forward information to the Russian Federation. They stop these vehicles again near Smolensk, Pskov, Bryansk and start turning them inside out again. It is not okay. We will certainly handle it somehow. But then, do not demand anything from us,” the president said.

The head of state called the entire situation absurd. After all, what Russia does is absolutely useless. “What for? For extra bribes? We are fully aware how they work. I have informed the Russian president about it,” the head of state said.

On protecting the Union State border

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that there are no issues between Belarusian and Russian border guards, military people and transport services, but when these matters are raised at the government level, a number of issues emerge. “They often say that they keep Belarus going, that Belarus will collapse unless they give us subsidies and resources. Let us calculate how much we spend on border security. We need to remind them of the air defense system: they asked me for a long time to establish a common air defense system. Today it serves the Russian Federation from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. This also costs money and not only money. With all this, they keep calling us scroungers,” the president said.

The head of state recalled that at present Belarus and Russia are in talks over integration promotion. In his words, all the matters should be “put together and piled on the table in order to show the brotherly Russians what Belarus does for them and how much it spends on it”. Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Belarus has recently purchased Su-30SM fighter jets from Russia with its own money. “We are protecting the Russian Federation and the people of Russia on this front. Then why not help us? Why not supply modern weapons? We know how to use them as efficiently as Russians, but we pay a lot of money for them. I do not mean that we will not perform our duties. What I mean is that you should not talk nonsense in mass media and even at an official level alleging that Belarusians are an albatross around your neck,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“Therefore, these matters should be put together at the level of the government to show how we help, to make the Russian society see and understand that Belarusians are not scroungers, that people of Russia are as welcome in Belarus as in Russia. Let us be frank: more welcome in Belarus than in Russia. They say so. Therefore, if the Russian authorities are ready to move in this direction, let us sign a new agreement on the protection of our border. If Russians do not want it, we should be ready, like we are now, to protect our interests on behalf of the Republic of Belarus, on our own. We should have an open and candid discussion on these matters with the authorities of the Russian Federation, namely with the border service,” the Belarusian leader said.

Belarus and Russia had earlier worked out measures on the joint protection of the border. The head of state asked what arrangements were reached and what are the proposals of the State Border Committee regarding the future of the agreement on joint efforts in protecting Belarus’ state border.

The Belarus-Russia agreement on joint efforts in protecting Belarus' state border was signed in 1995. A year before, the two countries signed a cooperation agreement in border matters. Belarusian and Russian border guards cooperate on several fronts: they combat illegal migration, identify people involved in extremism, disrupt drug supply chains.

Over the past three years, Belarusian and Russian border guards jointly uncovered six illegal migration routes and detailed ten people involved. In 2018 alone, border guards detained five Russian nationals who attempted to import over 506kg of drugs to Belarus from Poland and Lithuania. During joint events, the Federal Security Service of Russia, the State Security Committee of Belarus and one of the branches of the State Border Committee disrupted the work of a drug laboratory in the village of Khatezhino in Minsk District. Some 30kg of synthetic drugs and about 430kg of precursors were found in this laboratory.

The Belarus-Russia Union State runs a program to improve border security that is in effect till 2021. This program helped improve the border infrastructure, purchase new equipment and border protection means. Four dormitories were built, two integrated border security systems were purchased, 28 vehicles and over 200 communication means were bought.

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