Minsk expects to draw Lithuania into dialogue on nuclear power, but without significant concessions
Lithuania and Belarus have clashed again over the evaluation of the nuclear power plant construction in Belarusian Ostovec. The Lithuanian authorities referred to the lack of information about the construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets and threatened to block the electricity supply to the European market. In turn, the Belarusian authorities sought to soften the attitude of the Lithuanian side regarding the Belarusian NPP construction due to the plans to export electricity to the Baltic countries and Poland. Belarus is expecting electricity surplus already in 2018, after the first reactor’s commissioning. Minsk anticipates to neutralize Vilnius by engaging in a dialogue. In addition, there is no consolidated position regarding the NPP construction in Belarus in the Baltic Sea basin countries, in particular, Finland took a different stance on it.
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.