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Opinions & Interviews

6 Sep 2019

Belarus president talks about relations with Russia

Belarus president talks about relations with Russia

BREST, 6 September (BelTA) – Belarus maintains brotherly relations with Russia. Belarus’ foreign policy has not turned towards the West. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the relevant statements while talking to mass media in Brest on 6 September, BelTA has learned.

“As for Russia, we are one people. I’ve said it a thousand times. They are our people, our brothers. We have always been together. They have always lent their shoulder to us. If we have problems with Russia at times, it doesn’t mean we have problems with Russian people. Their attitude towards us is excellent. Why do we have to treat them poorly? Turn away from them? Betray them as some say? It will never happen. It will never happen even without me. Belarusians will never allow a betrayal of the elder brother. But we demand that the elder brother has to act like one. We don’t want the brother to snub us, bend us. We want the brother to support us in time of need,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

The head of state reminded that the sides are now working on a program on advancing integration: “We’ve reached the economy part. They start bargaining – natural gas, oil, and the rest.” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted: “We are not going to ask anyone for anything. We are tired of these talks already, tired of listening.”

He mentioned the Chernobyl nuclear power plant catastrophe as an example. “Did we build that power plant? No. Did we blow it up? No. Who suffered most? We did. Back then the central government in the person of Mikhail Gorbachev took the responsibility for Belarus. Money was sometimes invested in really stupid projects. But they tried to rescue Belarus any way they thought acceptable. The country fell apart. Who is the legal successor?” wondered Aleksandr Lukashenko. “The Russian government always says they are the legal successor of the Soviet Union. Due to this fact we’ve surrendered the most precious thing for free to Russia – nuclear weapons. We’ve been pursuing our policy bearing in mind that Belarus and Russia are one fatherland. I tell Putin that Russia is my country, too. Because Belarusians have invested their souls in the development of that country, including Russia. Just like Leningrad residents helped us rebuild Minsk after the war. Everything is intertwined, everything is united.”

“But then Chernobyl happened… Legal successor… One third of the population [of Belarus]. We still cannot use wood from over there due to high accumulated radiation. But in exchange for that (we don’t ask for money, for anything) we want help – some 10-15 billion m3 of natural gas at acceptable prices. Not for free, not at a loss for Gazprom. People have suffered. And it is your duty as the legal successor. This is just one fact I’ve recalled,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

“But they tell us: you are a burden, you live at our expense… If this is your policy, we can get by,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

He referred to Russia’s actions in the course of building the southern and northern streams to transport natural gas. “They were tired of arguing with transit countries. He [the Russian president] proudly invested billions of U.S. dollars in building these pipelines. I told him: we could as proudly buy oil from other countries if you bend us, the oil price is close to the market one now, the customs duty has been replaced with the tax maneuver. But does Russia need its market flooded with 20-25 million tonnes of someone else’s oil – American oil, Saudi Arabian oil, someone else’s…? We could import Azerbaijani oil via Ukraine to Mozyr,” the head of state stated.

“We are working on a northern route. I’ve said it plainly to Russian authorities. Both via Poland and via Baltic states. Some headway has been made. But if we start importing oil via Poland, we will need two lines of the Druzhba pipeline, which is used to export Russian oil. Does Russia need it? No. Let’s negotiate like human beings then and make things better. These are my requirements,” the president said. “You don’t have to praise it to high heavens and say that Lukashenko has turned to the West. Listen, no one in the West would welcome me at least. I am 100% sure of it. They don’t need Lukashenko. Russia doesn’t really need me either. But our nations are brothers. This is why they have to bear it in mind.”

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6th Belarusian People's Congress