Russia and Belarus are preparing to reopen borders that were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and are discussing rerouting Belarusian oil exports through Russia, news outlets reported after high-level talks Thursday.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and his delegation met Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his government in Minsk amid continuing protests against his landslide victory in what the opposition says was a rigged election. Russia, which has been pushing for deeper integration with its smaller ex-Soviet neighbor, was quick to back Lukashenko after the Aug. 9 vote.
“Moscow fully supports the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Belarus,” Mishustin said in televised remarks.
Lukashenko noted that “Belarus and Russia have made significant progress in resolving pressing issues.”
Behind closed doors, the sides have made strides in agreeing to lift travel restrictions imposed since late March, the pro-Kremlin Izvestia newspaper reported. A final decision is expected during Lukashenko’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in the next two weeks, senior Russian lawmakers in charge of ex-Soviet affairs told Izvestia.
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