Putin hopes constitutional reform will help settle Belarus issue

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he hopes a constitutional reform planned by his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko will help settle the ongoing crisis in Belarus.

“I am sure that, bearing in mind your experience in politics, work in this area will be organised at the highest level and this will create new frontiers in the development of your country’s political system,” Putin said at a meeting with Lukashenko in Russia’s Sochi on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

He reiterated Moscow’s position that Belarusians themselves, in a calm mode and in dialogue with each other, come to understand this situation and reach a common decision, without any prompts and pressure from outside.

He added that Russia views Belarus as its closest ally and will fulfill all the obligations it has assumed in relation to the neighbouring country.

Putin recalled that Russia and Belarus have very deep and stable cooperation in various areas, with Russia being the biggest investor in the Belarusian economy.

He said that the two countries need to make additional efforts to not only restore the trade and economic relations damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also create conditions for moving them forward.

For this, Russia will provide Belarus with a state loan of US $1.5 billion, Putin said.

Moscow and Minsk should also continue cooperation in the military and defence sphere, Putin added.

At the meeting, Lukashenko said that Russia and Belarus must keep conducting joint military drills and plan them for years to come.

To this, Putin responded that the two countries conducted joint military activities almost every month and they will continue in accordance with joint agreements.