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What was Putin speaking with Lukashenko about for five hours?

At the recent talks, the Russian and Belarusian leaders tried to settle issues, discussed their proposals, plans, views, and hopes. The fact that no certain outcomes of the meeting were made public means that the negotiation process is not completed, Russian experts have told EADaily on November 23.

Deputy Director of the Center for Ukrainian and Belarusian Studies at the M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University Bogdan Bezpalko believes that the parties have not yet succeeded in lifting disagreements in the bilateral relations, so the negotiations are not over. “The major part of the talks was behind closed doors and was about the Russian-Belarusian relations, most probably about the disagreements they aggravated to the moment. The disagreements undoubtedly deal with the Russian gas supplies, the Belarusian debt, and many other issues that act as obstacles for development of the Russian-Belarusian partnership. Absence of official results of the talks means that they are to continue and the parties failed to come to compromise,” Bezpalko says.

Andrey Suzdaltsev, Deputy Dean, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at HSE (High School of Economics, Moscow) is sure that the meeting was successful, because the parties at least managed to discuss the contradictions.

“The meeting was successful. About two months before it, Lukashenko was very nervous about challenges of the current stage in the Russian-Belarusian relations. In his speeches, he did not hesitate to criticize Moscow’s stance. It was clear there was dissatisfaction, so they needed to discuss it. Minsk assigned a great role to the visit to Moscow. Usually, Lukashenko’s visits to Moscow are treated in Belarus as an opportunity to improve its situation. Now, they were supposed to settle very acute issues concerning the gas price, the Belarusian gas debt and renewal of oil supplies to Belarusian refineries on the contracted basis, and many other issues, of course. The meeting took a long time, and as far as I know, they managed to discuss in detail all major issues. Vladimir Putin listened very attentively to his guest’s lamenting on how hard the situation in Belarus is. Actually, the Russian president noted that Russia is also having not very good times and it also has problems. They paid some attention to the issue of how Belarus is implementing the agreements made before. But they were discussing it in a sensible way, with no quarrels, both speakers were good in comprehending the nuances and understanding the each other very well. They spoke a little on the gas issue, because all the negotiations on it are over. The key issue was implementation of what has been agreed upon. There was no mutual pressure or blackmailing,” he says.

To remind, on November 22, the Russian and Belarusian presidents met in Moscow. Under official reports, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko discussed key issues of the bilateral relations, prospects of the Eurasian integration and major global issues. No details or outcomes of the meeting were disclosed.

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