Putin and Lukashenko meet for the second time in five days to close the crisis

Putin and Lukashenko meet for the second time in five days to close the crisis

The presidents of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, met today for the second time in a week to solve the trade dispute that has been facing their countries for several weeks.

Lukashenko informed Putin that Minsk has already set up a working group to resolve the bilateral disputes that will be put to work after the New Year's holidays, according to local media reports.

The main dispute is the one already known as "fiscal maneuver", under which Russia will reduce to zero the tariffs on oil exports by 2024, while increasing the tax on mining exploitation.

This decision greatly harms Belarus, which will then have to pay much more for Russian crude and which already calculates losses of up to 10.8 billion dollars.

Lukashenko criticized the Russian government for suspending negotiations on the compensation that Minsk will receive for this fiscal maneuver and accused Moscow of behaving as if both countries were no longer "brother" peoples.

In response, the Russian government assured that Moscow never raised the possibility that Minsk would receive economic compensation in the future.

"We say: ok, we are brothers, but not so much as to grant subsidies," said Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Antón Siluánov.

Putin and Lukashenko tried to reach an agreement on December 25, but only agreed to create working groups to study this and other issues.

With regard to today's negotiations, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov ruled out that both sides can make great progress in recognizing that the fiscal maneuver is a "rather complex" issue.

In turn, Peskov denied that Russia intends to integrate Belarus into its ranks, but rather to strengthen its integration within the framework of the State Union between both countries, a process that has been underway since 1999.

In recent years, Lukashenko and the Russian government have had many disagreements, which have only been resolved in direct negotiations between Putin and the Belarusian leader.

The Russian government has accused Belarus of taking advantage of international sanctions against Russia and the consequent Russian veto on European products to appropriate a large part of the market for banned products.


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