Vladimir Putin discusses possibility of third world war
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Announced on Thursday, the deal will see Russia continue to supply its Western neighbour with heavily discounted supplies of natural gas up until the end of next year. Moscow will also release another $630 million in loans for Belarus, to help ease pressure from Western sanctions. However, the talks failed to reach an agreement about the adoption of a common currency and political union.
“First the economic foundation must be laid before moving further on the political track,” Mr Putin told reporters at a press conference in the Kremlin.
Moscow and Minsk have been negotiating for three years about creating closer economic, military and political ties.
Mr Lukashenko had stalled on implementing prior agreements, due to fears that he would be undermining his own position as leader by ceding too much power to Moscow.
With the imposition of tough new sanctions from the West, the Belarus autocrat has found himself increasingly dependent on Russia for both economic and political support.
The two leaders also discussed closer defence and security cooperation, although they did not provide any specific details at their press conference.
It comes as Russian SU-30SM fighter jets arrived in Belarus as part of a new deployment.
The planes will take part in joint patrols of airspace along Belarus’ borders with the West.
In an official statement, the Belarusian Defence Ministry said: “Su-30SM aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces arrived at the Baranovichi airfield for the formation of a combat training centre for joint training of the Air Force and Air Defence Forces of Belarus and Russia.
“The decision to create combat training centres for joint training of the armed forces of Belarus and Russia was made during negotiations between the heads of the defence departments on March 5, 2021, in Moscow.”
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Their arrival coincides with the start of joint military war games, known as Zapad-2021.
The manoeuvres will take place in both Russia and Belarus and involve as many as 200,000 troops, as well as hundreds of planes, armoured vehicles and ships, Russia’s RIA Novosti reported.
The exercises, which are held every four years, usually simulate a conflict between Nato and a Russian-led alliance.
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