Image by Kremlin.ru
On the anniversary of the formation of the Union State, a formal arrangement between Belarus and the Russian Federation crafted after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian President Vladimir Putin smoothed over recent tensions between the two nations and congratulated Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
“In his congratulatory telegram, the head of the Russian state, in particular, stressed that Russians and Belarusians have been building the Union State for more than two decades and the results of these joint efforts are becoming more and more tangible,” the Kremlin press service said. Putin noted the smooth work of mechanisms of coordinating foreign and defense policy of the two countries and the dynamic development of their trade and economic, scientific and technical, humanitarian and interregional ties, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
“At the same time, Putin emphasized the importance of experience accumulated by Russia and Belarus during the establishment of the Union State which helps advancing integrational cooperation in a broader format on the Eurasian space.”
Moscow was angered by Lukashenko’s move towards the European Union. The Belarusian president has opened up the country to visa free travel with most of the West. Tensions between the two countries rose dramatically over late payments for oil imports to Minsk, with Russia going so far as to install border checkpoints with its sister Union State partner. Russia has also pressured Belarus to allow the Russian Air Force to build a base in-country.
With those travails behind them, Putin and Lukashenko seem to be mending fences, at least for the cameras. Time will tell if the rapprochement is for real.