Minsk steps up financial dependence on Moscow
Belarus received the second tranche from the Russian-controlled Eurasian Fund for Stabilisation and Development worth USD 300 million. Amid mutual statements about the resolution of the energy conflict between Minsk and Moscow in the near future, the EFSD management has taken a final decision to allocate the loan. According to Russia, Belarus’ overdue debt for gas is USD 270 million, which almost equals the size of the EFSR loan’s second tranche. Media reported, that during the talks on oil and gas prices for Belarus, Russia linked potential discounts in H2 2016, inter alia, to privatisation of Belarusian property, which was also the EFSD requirement. Due to the oil and gas standout, Minsk practically received funds from the EFSD without a delay. However, from the strategic perspective, the Belarusian authorities have increased Belarus’ financial dependence on the Kremlin as further loan tranches could be conditioned with the sale of state-owned enterprises.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.