MOSCOW (Al- Jazeera) - President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian ally have agreed to closer economic ties and new loans from Moscow, as the Kremlin moved to capitalize on Alexander Lukashenko’s international isolation.
“First the economic foundation must be laid before moving further on the political track,” Putin told reporters after talks in the Kremlin Thursday.
The two neighbors, linked in a so-called Union State, agreed to tighter coordination in economic policy but stopped short of a common currency. Russia will continue deeply discounted supplies of natural gas to Belarus through the end of next year as the two move to gradually integrate energy markets. Putin also said Russia will provide another $630 million in loans for Belarus through the end of next year.