Russian economic crisis has cost Belarus $3bn, Lukashenko claims

President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko

President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko

Belarus has lost nearly $3bn due to the Russian economic crisis that followed Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said today, in the latest indication that maintaining close political and economic ties with Russia was taking a toll on his nation. The losses were due, he said, to the collapse of Russian markets triggered by Western sanctions imposed on Moscow and Russia’s retaliatory ban on European food imports, many of which had historically passed through Belarus.
The Ukrainian crisis has found Belarus caught between a rock and a hard place. Although a founder member of the EEU, Minsk is also trying to foster stronger training links with the EU, and while Lukashenko has criticized Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, he has avoided openly defying Russia and has instead positioned himself as a peacemaker.