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Vladimir Putin, Alexander Lukashenko discuss economic ties, pandemic

News Agencies | Updated on: 30 May 2021, 9:36 IST

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko discussed economic relations including trade and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic during their talks in Sochi, said an official.

"There were mainly two major topics, namely the further development of the trade and economic cooperation of Russia and Belarus as well as the fight against the pandemic," Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday, reported TASS.

According to the Kremlin spokesman, the leaders held a formal meeting on Friday and went on to informal talks on Saturday.

Al Jazeera reported that Putin and Lukashenko's two-day summit came as the European Union and the United States denounced Belarus for using a hoax bomb threat to force a Ryanair jet to land in Minsk. Belarusian authorities sent a fighter jet to escort the plane down, before arresting journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner Sofia Sapega, a Russian citizen.

Both are in jail accused of orchestrating mass riots. Protasevich could be jailed for up to 15 years.

Several European nations have imposed flight bans on Belarusian aviation, while the US said that "full blocking sanctions" on nine state-owned Belarusian companies will come into effect on June 3. Washington also said it was working with the EU in drawing up a list of targeted sanctions against key members of Lukashenko's government.

Kremlin spokesman also informed that Putin and Lukashenko have instructed the two countries' transport ministries "to organize all the issues of air communication."

"The transport ministries of the two countries - Russia and Belarus - are instructed to organize all the aspects of air communication, including with regard to the upcoming holiday period and with regard to a large number of Belarusians, who want to come to Russia's Black Sea coast, and, what is important, with regard to the fact that a large number of Belarusians have to somehow return to their homeland," the Kremlin spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Alexander Lukashenko-led Belarusian government is facing fierce criticism from the international community for forcing an airliner to land in Minsk and detaining journalist Raman Pratasevich, who was on board the plane.

Amid the crisis, massive protests are erupting from many parts of Europe demanding the release of the journalist.


Also Read: Belarus: Protests call for release of journalist Roman Protasevich


First published: 30 May 2021, 9:36 IST