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Putin, Lukashenko to discuss bilateral relations at Kremlin talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko will continue their talks on economic cooperation on December 29

MOSCOW, December 29. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko will continue their talks on economic cooperation and integration within the Union State in the Kremlin on December 29, Izvestia wrote on Saturday.

This is the third meeting between Putin and Lukashenko this month. However, according to Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov many problems in bilateral relations "can only be resolved at the highest level".

"The presidents will continue to talk about how to deal with the 1999 agreement on the creation of the Union State, they will have the opportunity to once again discuss and continue the conversation regarding the requests of our Belarusian colleagues on various financial topics," Peskov said.

Thus, after the most recent negotiations, the creation of a Russian-Belarusian working group was announced, which will deal with integration and economic problems. Russia's Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin became its co-chair from Russia.

Experts, interviewed by Izvestia believe that there is no partner closer to Moscow than Minsk, however discrepancies in defining the parameters of allied relations inhibit the process of integration between the countries.

At the meeting with Belarusian colleagues, it is important for Moscow to reanimate the Treaty on the Creation of a Union State from 1999 in order to move along a path of real integration, Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS Countries Vladimir Evseev told Izvestia. "It is obvious that serious economic dependence on Moscow will force Minsk to make some concessions on implementation of the Union Treaty. However, after that there will be reciprocal concessions from the Russian side. The most important thing right now is to agree on a possible compromise. This is exactly the reason for the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko," the expert said.

One of the points of contention in relations between Moscow and Minsk is natural gas prices for Belarus. Minsk is also dissatisfied with Russia’s so-called tax maneuver in the oil sector and wants to receive subsidies for its refineries from Russia.

On December 24, Alexander Lukashenko said at a meeting dedicated to pressing cooperation issues that Moscow had rejected all suggestions Minsk had made on gas prices and ways to offset financial losses.

In turn, Moscow is concerned about regular violations of the common customs laws of Russia and Belarus, including imports of banned and excisable goods to Russia, First Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said earlier.