MINSK — Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has lambasted Moscow for what he called “sanctions” against Belarusian goods and hinted he could block Russian oil deliveries to Europe.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Minsk on April 11, Lukashenka said Russia had “closed” its market for a number of Belarusian goods.
“They [Russia] are under [Western] sanctions themselves… but they use the same weapon in fighting against their closest allies,” Lukashenka said.
On April 10, Russia’s agricultural oversight agency, Rosselkhoznadzor, announced that apples and pears from Belarus will be barred from Russia’s market.
That move comes amid growing pressure from Moscow for Belarus to further integrate with Russia.
Lukashenka has recently criticized increases in the price of Russian energy as part of Moscow’s efforts to persuade his country to abandon its independence.
In his remarks on April 11, Lukashenka ordered the government to start pipeline repairs “if necessary,” a move, he said, that would suspend Russian oil deliveries to Europe via Belarus.
“They hit us on our left cheek and we offer them the right one, what is this?” Lukashenka asked the government members and ordered them to outline “corresponding measures” as a response to Moscow’s “sanctions” by “next week.”
Belarus is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EES) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, regional groupings that observers say Russian President Vladimir Putin uses to bolster Moscow’s influence in the former Soviet Union and to counter the European Union and NATO.