Belarus-Russia: no advancement on key issues; Russia further tightens terms for EEU allies
Major events last week included Lukashenka’s visit to Vienna, Belarus’ purchase of SU-30SM aircraft, Putin’s avaricious comment about the hope to reach an agreement with Belarus on gas and oil by the year-end and plans to introduce a 50% quota on public procurement in Russia for Russian companies. There was no progress in either integration or resolving the conflict of interests.
Lukashenka’s visit to Austria predictably did not raise any suspicion or jealousy in Moscow, since Russia regards Austria as the friendliest European state.
The purchase of Su-30SM fighters has evidenced that the “combined group of forces” created within the Union State of Belarus and Russia to jointly defend the common border, as well as the Union State itself, existed only on paper. Belarusian Security Council State Secretary Zas said that Russia was ready to deliver relatively modern fighters royalty-free only in exchange for deploying a military base in Belarus, that is, on condition that Russia remained the aircraft’s user and owner.
Also, at a meeting with Lukashenka, Zas proposed revising and updating the 1995 Agreement on the Joint Border Protection of the Union State. In other words, the border and its protection are becoming yet another tension point in relations with Russia.
The other two friction points, i.e. energy agreement and the integration, yet have not been resolved. Some comments made by Rumas and Khotko indicated that some of the provisions of the “roadmaps” might be regarded by the government and Belarusian business as a path for growth and liberalization of the economy since due to political restrictions reforms were abandoned.
According to Rumas and Putin, there was no progress on gas and oil issues. Moreover, it is highly likely that by December 8th these matters would not be resolved.