Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday arrived in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on a one-day working for talks with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko who has allowed Moscow to use his country as a staging ground for its offensive in Ukraine.

This is Putin’s first visit to Belarus since June 2019, when he attended boxing and artistic gymnastics competitions as part of the 2nd European Games.

Russian media reports said yesterday that the program of meeting is expected to be quite meaty.  According to TASS, talks were supposed to begin in an extended format, involving the two countries’ government officials and ministers, along with the presidents.  The parties will discuss in detail the most pressing issues of Belarusian-Russian integration, TASS says, noting that after that, the presidents will continue talks tete-a-tete, will make statements and speak to journalists.

According to the Belarusian side, the two countries’ defense ministers were supposed to take part in the meeting between the two presidents.

The agenda of the talks includes the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, including trade and economic cooperation and the implementation of the Union State’s programs.  According to Lukashenko, another topic is the military-political situation around the two states, issues of the defense sector, security, and combat capacity.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin reports that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, in particular said, “The break in visits to Minsk did not prevent us from remaining in constant contact. Even our so-called Western partners were very worried about us getting together so often.  We met regularly both in the Russian Federation and at international venues.”

According to him, the strengthening of Belarusian-Russian ties has become a natural response to the changing situation in the world.

“I believe that despite certain irregularities, we are still able to find effective answers to various challenges and threats.  Landmark decisions about closer integration of our states once again show the world at large that pandemics, crises or sanctions can be overcome only if we stand united,” Lukashenko noted

Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his part, said, “Recently, we have really paid much attention to the issues of security and international cooperation and in general, we should be content with the development of our relations on this track.”

He, particular, noted that Belarus is not only Russia’s good neighbor that they have been working with through all the previous decades with due account of each other’s interests, but Belarus is also definitely 

“…There are areas related to military-technical cooperation, and this is not limited to mutual supplies.  I believe it is extremely important that this is our joint work, development and cooperation in this area, including development of high-tech production lines,” Putin said. 

The BBC earlier reported that in a separate development, President Putin is due to visit Belarus on Monday, amid media reports that he will be putting further pressure on Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally, to officially join in Russia's war effort and send troops to Ukraine.  Meanwhile, the Kremlin rejects claims that the Russian president is pressuring Belarus into a more active role in the war against Ukraine.

The BBC reported today that Ukraine is tightening up the defense of its border with Belarus over fears that Russia may be preparing a fresh attack.  Ukrainian Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Yenin told the BBC Ukraine would be bolstering the Belarusian border with armed forces and ammunition.  The news came as Vladimir Putin travelled to Minsk to meet Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.