Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has arrived in Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin in the southwestern city of Sochi, according to a statement by the Kremlin.
In his opening remarks ahead of the meeting, Putin said he would inform Lukashenko on the state of Russia’s economy, which he said was “stable and reliable,” on his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and their discussion of the “situation in the region,” as well as on Ukraine.
“I would like to inform you in detail that we are completing the budget process. Everything here is stable and reliable, which is good news. I say this because you and I know well: The state of the Russian economy, of course, is reflected in our interaction within the Union State. We have mutual questions, mutual obligations in this regard,” Putin told Lukashenko.
Russia and Belarus signed the Union State Treaty in 1999 — an agreement aiming to deepen the countries’ cooperation in economic and defense policy.
“You know, just recently I had a meeting with the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. I would like to inform you about how the discussion went on, on the situation in the region, which is also important, and, of course, on our most pressing issue — the situation in the Ukrainian direction, around the Ukrainian crisis,” Putin said.
“I am very glad to see you. Thank you for agreeing to come,” he added.
The meeting will be the seventh between the two leaders this year, according to Russian state news agency TASS. The last one-on-one meeting took place on July 23 in St. Petersburg.
“Good neighborly relations”: Speaking at a press conference following talks with Lukashenko, Putin discussed his recent meeting with Kim in Russia’s far east.
Putin said Moscow will seek opportunities to develop “good neighborly relations” with North Korea, claiming that Russia will operate in the framework of international law and is “not going to violate anything.”
“We do not pose a threat to anyone,” Putin added.
Some background: Belarus has played a growing role in supporting Russia’s war effort in Ukraine — from treating wounded Russian soldiers to stationing Russian tactical nuclear weapons and even harboring mercenaries from the Wagner Group after its late chief Yevgeny Prigozhin staged an abortive mutiny on Moscow in June.
Belarus’ involvement in Russia’s war has been so extensive that the European Parliament this week called Lukashenko “an accomplice” in the war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine.
In a resolution adopted Wednesday, the parliament also labeled Belarus a “satellite state of Russia” and suggested applying the same sanctions against Belarus as it currently does against Russia.