Lukashenka aims to resolve long-running energy crisis at meeting with Putin
President Lukashenka is planning a visit to Moscow in the near future to hold talks with Russian President Putin. At the meeting, the president aims to close the issue with the Russian energy supply. The oil and gas tension between Moscow and Minsk has become chronic with periodic exacerbations in bilateral relations, albeit without the harsh confrontation and information wars common for late 2000s. Despite numerous statements by Belarusian and Russian officials about the near end to the oil and gas crisis, to date, the parties have not come to the final agreement. Minsk’s arguments seem to have no effect on the Kremlin, which is firmly unwilling to make concessions. The Kremlin’s stance has prompted Minsk to reduce expectations of benefits from the Eurasian integration and look for new partners and ways to import energy. In all likelihood, the Belarusian authorities anticipate to achieve at least a temporary compromise with the Kremlin by the year-end, when the EEU will report on its integration successes.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.