Last week the Finance Minister of Russia Alexei Kudrin said that Russia does not consider the allocation of a USD 1 billion loan from its budget and that Belarus could rely on the funds of the EEC Anti-Crisis Fund only ($ 1 billion in 2011-2013).
The Belarusian delegation departed for Moscow on 13 May to start technical arrangements for a loan agreement with the Eurasian Economic Community Crisis Fund for USD 1 billion.
What is behind this statement? On the one hand, it could be informational setting for Belarus on the eve of the visit of V. Putin. He can make a diametrically opposite statement and announce the speedy issue of the loan under certain conditions. In his statement Kudrin on behalf of Russia, for the first time voiced direct reference to the possibility and necessity of raising funds from privatization. There was no privatization in the country yet, because, again, the officials are simply afraid to go to the President with the price-offers made by investors.
Regardless of the fact that there are fewer objects atrracting Russian investors with every passing year, there are strategic assets that will always be of interest to Russians (Energy, Engineering, potassium, some infrastructure companies). It is possible that Russia named the price for a few facilities of their interest - $ 2 billion.
On the other hand, it could be a balanced strategic decision, which means that Russia is not going to throw money down the drain because of the lack of political will or crisis management skills of the current government. That is, Russia is consciously shifting from politics to economy and is not willing to pay for politics any longer (Belarus has already signed all the necessary documents). A possible demarche and withdrawal of Belarus from the integration projects with Russia, threatens Belarus with greater troubles.
At the same time, even small loans like this one are vital for the country. But, there are no grounds to believe that the country will get this money before the end of May, as the Belarusian government hopes, given the conditions for granting the credit were not agreed upon. The Russian-Belarus relations will be clarified next week, during Vladimir Putin’s visit to Minsk.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.