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Comment by the Press Service of the President of Russia on Russian-Belarusian relations

February 3, 2017

In connection with the recent statements made by Belarusian leaders, the Press Service of the President of Russia notes that Moscow prioritises the tasks and objectives of continuing the integration processes. Moscow also emphasises the continuing development of the Union State of Russia and Belarus.

Russia has provided and continues to provide wide-ranging economic, political and other assistance to Belarus, considering the special allied nature of our relations. From 2011 until 2015, between 18 million and 23 million tonnes of oil was supplied to our Belarusian partners duty free. As a result, during that period, the Russian budget was off by $22.3 billion. All of this is nothing if not direct and indirect support for Belarus.

In addition, $2.5 billion worth of loans were extended to our Belarusian colleagues via the Eurasian Fund for Stabilisation and Development.

Any economic or commercial disputes that may have arisen will be dealt with calmly through business-like negotiations. Russia hopes the current economic disagreements will be resolved in the course of such negotiations.

Moscow is certainly puzzled by claims against the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision (Rosselkhoznadzor) and the decision by the President of Belarus to open a criminal case against its chief, Sergei Dankvert. This federal service performs its functions meticulously and efficiently.

In connection with a number of critical remarks regarding the Russian-Belarusian border, it should be noted that no border regime has been imposed. This only concerns the introduction of border zones in areas adjacent to the border. It is related to the need to regulate visits to border areas by citizens from other countries.

This step has no and can have no consequences for the citizens of the Union State, that is, citizens of Russia and Belarus. A corresponding order by the Federal Security Service was published after thorough analysis and coordination with the Ministry of Justice on compliance with Russia’s international obligations and treaties.

This decision is nothing new. On September 4, 2014, the President of Belarus signed Executive Order No. 433 that regulates the establishment of border areas within territorial-administrative entities adjacent to the Russian-Belarusian border. The signing of this Executive Order was necessitated by the interests of ensuring border security, as well as ensuring a corresponding level of cooperation in countering illegal migration, drug trafficking and smuggling.

This argumentation is absolutely just and well substantiated, and in this case the Russian Border Service follows the same path. It would therefore be a mistake to associate these measures with a violation by Russia of its international obligations, international or interstate treaties. Moscow hopes that the timeframe for holding a meeting of the Union State Supreme State Council will be coordinated in the foreseeable future in order to discuss the entire range of issues on the agenda.

February 3, 2017