Lukashenko refuses to ‘kneel before Putin every New Year’s Eve’

Belarus will continue to diversify oil purchases from other countries even if it costs more than buying Russian oil, said Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting with the staff of the Svetlogorsk Pulp and Board Plant.

The Belarusian President explained that he was ready to pay more "so that, every year on December 31, not to kneel" before Putin.

"It shouldn't be like this, and it won't be," he said.

The Belarusian president also spoke about the pressure of Putin, who wants the country to join Russia in exchange for common energy prices. At the same time, Lukashenko rejected the idea that Putin intends to extend his term as Russian president by creating a union state with Belarus.

"Putin has no such goal," Lukashenko said. "And if there was one, we agreed two years ago: there can be no accession of Belarus to Russia."

According to the Belarusian President, a unified state is possible, only if Russia joins Belarus.

At the end of December, Russia and Belarus were unable to reach an agreement on the terms for oil transit. Moscow has stopped deliveries as of January 1, and Minsk temporarily suspended its oil products exports, although this was resumed by mid-January. Lukashenko said that if Russia makes its oil too expensive, Belarus will be forced to look for alternative supplies, including the reverse transit of Saudi or US oil through Poland.

In mid-January, Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Krutoy said that Minsk considers it inexpedient to continue overpaying Russian companies for oil and is looking for suppliers in other countries. It was later learned that Belarus had bought 80,000 tons of oil from Norway, and that Lukashenko had instructed the government to sign a supply contract with Kazakhstan.

In mid-December, Belarusian Finance Ministry Maksim Yermolovich signed an agreement to take an urgent 3.5 billion yuan loan (around $500 million) from the Shanghai branch of the China Development Bank. Previously it was reported that Belarus had requested such a loan from Russia but had failed to reach an agreement.

  Belarus, Lukashenko, Putin