Russia to release promised $500M loan to Belarus
Second tranche of $1.5 billion loan to be transferred to Minsk before end of June, says Kremlin spokesman
Russia has agreed to soon release $500 million from a previously agreed credit to Belarus, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Saturday.
Peskov said President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, held more than five hours of talks in Sochi on Friday and continued informal talks for a second day.
Both leaders were on a yacht trip Saturday on the Black Sea.
Last year, Moscow promised Minsk a $1.5 billion loan to support its neighbor and provided the first installment of $500 million in October.
Without mentioning a specific date, Peskov said the second tranche is set to be transferred to Belarus before the end of June.
"At least there are no obstacles left for this [second tranche], everything is decided," he said, adding that Lukashenko did not ask for further assistance.
He noted that Putin and Lukashenko focused on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, as well as economic and trade issues.
They also touched on the emergency landing of the Ryanair passenger jet in Belarus.
The talks were “very constructive, rich in content," he told reporters.
Criticizing the approaches of European countries, Peskov emphasized that for Moscow, the issue should be resolved through "thoughtful and constructive investigation, without hasty conclusions."
On the issue of air travel for Belarusian citizens, Peskov said transport ministries of both countries had been tasked with helping Belarusian citizens in Europe return home.
A Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS flight from Athens to the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, landed in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, last Saturday due to a bomb threat. Roman Protasevich, a journalist wanted for his involvement in "terrorism incidents," was detained.
Protasevich is the founder of a social media news channel, which reportedly played a major role in protests last summer in Minsk that demanded the resignation of Lukashenko after he was awarded a sixth term in a presidential election.
EU leaders issued a statement after a summit on Monday that condemned the forced landing of the Ryanair flight and the detention of Pratasevich and his partner.
They also agreed to apply sanctions against Belarus and to ban aviation above the country’s airspace.
Russian authorities on Friday denied entry to two European airlines, Austrian Airlance and Air France, that were planning to avoid Belarusian airspace.
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