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Russia, Belarus agree to jointly counter EU's 'aggressive policies'

Foreign ministers Sergey Lavrov and Vladimir Makei address news conference in Moscow

Elena Teslova   | 18.06.2021
Russia, Belarus agree to jointly counter EU's 'aggressive policies'

MOSCOW

Russia and Belarus on Friday expressed concern on what they called "the aggressive Western policies."

Following a meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Belarusian counterpart Vladimir Makei addressed a joint news conference in Moscow.

"Taking into account the openly aggressive line of our Western colleagues, we agreed to coordinate efforts to strengthen the state sovereignty of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus, and to ensure the national security of our two countries on the basis of existing international legal agreements," Lavrov said.

He said that concern was expressed over the EU's stance against both the countries, which is not constructive, adding that NATO's actions were also discussed and assessed as trying "to escalate the situation on the European continent."

He added: "We see the ongoing Defender Europe 2021 exercise as a demonstration of the alliance's aggressive intentions."

The US and the EU have imposed sanctions on top Belarusian officials since President Alexander Lukashenko’s reelection to a sixth term in an August 2020 vote that the opposition rejected as rigged.

The EU has also decided to impose further sanctions and ban Belarusian airlines from using the airspace and airports of the 27-nation bloc following the "forced diversion" of a passenger jet and arrest of a critical journalist.

Moscow and Minsk have close political, economic, and military ties, and Lukashenko has relied on Russian support amid the sanctions.

Meanwhile, the recent NATO leaders summit in Brussels reaffirmed the alliance’s dual-track approach of defense and dialogue toward Russia. It also pledged to continue to support Ukraine, which has hostile relations with Russia since 2014.

Makei said the recent developments "clearly demonstrate the existence of united strategy centers as well as special tools for waging an information war against both countries."

He said Minsk changed its policy on granting foreign correspondent accreditation to avoid biased coverage.

"A number of media organizations hired government opponents as their journalists who did not provide objective coverage of events, they were engaged in propaganda activities," he claimed.

When asked about sanctions imposed by the West against Belarus, Makei said Minsk "categorically opposes" them.

"Many politicians in the West think of themselves as people who can say what is right and what is wrong ... they cannot get used to the idea that the world is developing not only according to their will and their desire," he said.

"I think pro-democratic totalitarianism is more dangerous than communist totalitarianism."

Makei reassured that Belarus will withstand the sanctions, despite the difficulties they will cause, and that it will respond with counter-measures.

"We will hold up, taking into account the fact that Belarus is not alone, there are a number of allies and partners who are always ready to support us, (and) we will definitely endure. We understand that this will create certain difficulties for the Belarusian leadership. But the government and the president will do everything to ensure that people come out of this difficult period with minimal losses," he said.

Russia-US relations

Lavrov said the normalization of diplomatic relations between Russia and the US is possible if both sides take steps simultaneously.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden on Wednesday held their first face-to-face meeting since the latter took office in January.

They have agreed for their ambassadors to return and start consultations on arms control, global stability, and cybersecurity.

Following critical comments by Biden, Russia in March recalled its ambassador Anatoly Antonov and said US envoy John Sullivan to Moscow likewise should return to Washington. In May, it formally designated the US an "unfriendly" state.

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