Policy Memos

The Rapprochement between Belarus and the European Union

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In June 2009, a crisis developed in Russian-Belarusian relations, triggered by the Belarusian leadership’s refusal to accept payment in rubles of a promised $500 million Russian credit. It was exacerbated by harsh exchanges between Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko and Russian finance minister Aleksei Kudrin. Within weeks, Russia introduced a milk and dairy embargo against Belarus, while Gazprom requested the payment of a $230 million gas debt that it claimed Belarus had incurred in the first part of the year. Belarus reciprocated by indicating a readiness to introduce customs controls on the Russian border and refusing to take part in a summit of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (or assume the organization’s rotating chairmanship as scheduled). The level of acrimony between the two states was so high that an unnamed source in the Russian presidential administration told the Russian daily Kommersant that “it looks like someone is simply tired of being president” of Belarus. [...]

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About the author

Director,The EU Eastern Neighbourhood and Russia Programme
Finnish Institute of International Affairs