Lukashenko: We need to overcome the problems Russia has dumped on us
In its planning for the next five years, the Belarusian government will have to deal with some serious challenges, said the republic’s president Alexander Lukashenko during a meeting with the newly appointed officials of his administration. According to the president, several of the economic problems are linked to Russia.
“We will need to plan, and very seriously. Even this year, we have to work very seriously hard to overcome the negative effects in the economy, especially those linked to Russia. The losses our brothers have dumped on us we have to offset through other areas,” Lukashenko remarked, as cited by the presidential press service.
He also stated that for Belarus as a country with an export-oriented economy, it is extremely important to develop trade and economic relations with other countries.
“China, Russia, the EU… Possibly with the Americans we can establish relations. These are the monsters with which all states consider cooperating for happiness,” explained Lukashenko, describing it as fortunate that Minsk has already adopted a course towards friendship with China.
At the end of December, Russia and Belarus were unable to reach an agreement on the terms for oil transit. Moscow has stopped deliveries as of January 1, and Minsk temporarily suspended its oil products exports, although this was resumed by mid January. Lukashenko said that if Russia makes its oil too expensive, Belarus will be forced to look for alternative supplies, including the reverse transit of Saudi or US oil through Poland.
In mid January, Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Krutoy said that Minsk considers it inexpedient to continue overpaying Russian companies for oil, and is looking for suppliers in other countries. It was later learned that Belarus had bought 80,000 tons of oil from Norway, and that Lukashenko had instructed the government to sign a supply contract with Kazakhstan.
In mid December, Belarusian Finance Ministry Maksim Yermolovich signed an agreement to take an urgent 3.5 billion yuan loan (around $500 million) from the Shanghai branch of the China Development Bank. Previously it was reported that Belarus had requested such a loan from Russia, but had failed to reach an agreement.