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Brief Respite for Lukashenka

Russian Loans Alleviate Minsk’s Immediate Financial Woes, but Deepen Dependency

SWP Comment 2017/C 15, 15.05.2017, 4 Pages Research Areas

Late on 3 April 2017 in Saint Petersburg, Vladimir Putin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka announced the end of the Belarusian-Russian energy dispute. New loans from Moscow appear to be the central outcome for Minsk. This provides relief for Lukashenka, whose regime currently finds itself squeezed between economic difficulties and social protests. But the agreement leaves Minsk’s underlying economic problems unresolved, while the additional debt ties it even tighter to Moscow. In exchange for its support, the Kremlin could at some point demand Minsk make concessions that contradict the EU’s interests. To date, however, Lukashenka has sought to retain a degree of autonomy from Moscow, with Minsk’s dialogue with the EU providing an important counter-weight.