Russian President Wladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinChris Inglis officially sworn in when national cyber director Rand Paul requests an investigation into allegations the NSA spied after Tucker Carlson says Russia-affiliated hackers attacked her Navy’s website MORE held a meeting with the Belarusian head of state on Tuesday Alexander Lukashenko amid sanctions imposed by the US and other nations on Belarus for the Eastern European country diverting a flight to arrest an opposition journalist in May.
The Associated Press reported that Lukashenko spoke about economic sanctions at the beginning of the talks in St. Petersburg, saying, “We will deal with terrorism and all of that, but the economy is most important.”
“We will withstand this economic blow together with Russia,” he said, adding that Western countries will not be able to “monopolize the international agenda and put pressure on us.”
After the five-hour meeting of heads of state and government on Tuesday, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia and Belarus, which have a trade union agreement to promote economic, political and military cooperation, have agreed that Belarus will increase the Russian gas tax next year to this year Prices is received. reported the AP.
The talks also reportedly included potential new loans from Russia and efforts to foster cooperation in various areas, including energy, taxation and customs.
After the meeting, Lukashenko thanked Putin for the “very serious support” from the Kremlin and described Belarus as a “reliable and stable partner,” the AP reported.
The Belarusian economy was hit hard by the sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union following a Ryanair flight from Belarus in May Lithuania to Greece to land in Belarus.
Upon landing, authorities arrested Raman Pratasevich, a journalist and vocal critic of Lukashenko and his girlfriend, who were both passengers on the flight.
President BidenJoe BidenPoll: Biden approval for coronavirus drops by 2 percentage points Overnight Defense: Top US commander in Afghanistan leaves | USA sends delegation to Haiti after troops have been requested | Senate Demen Propose 0.3B for Pentagon in Capitol Security Bill Protests escalate tensions between US and Cuba MORE and other world leaders condemned the move by Belarus, which is known to crack down on independent media critical of the government.
According to the AP, the Belarusian Union of Journalists said Tuesday that the authorities raided three more news outlets after more than 30 offices and homes were raided by journalists in the past week.
According to the Association of Journalists, 39 journalists are currently in custody in Belarus.
Belarus also faced continued unrest among its citizens after the August 2020 elections that gave Lukashenko a sixth term, with many claiming that the competition had been rigged in his favor.
The government cracked down on demonstrations – the authorities arrested more than 35,000 people, according to the AP.
Lukashenko on Tuesday accused Western-backed organizations of fueling discontent in his country, saying: “We have started to take very active action against all these NGOs that are effectively promoting terror rather than democracy.”
Last week the US Department of Transportation issued a final order on air travel restrictions for Belarus and immediately banned ticket sales for flights between Belarus and the US.