International Update : Lukashenko heads to Russia to meet Putin

Insight Online News

Minsk, May 28 : Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who’s under increasing pressure from the West and European Union (EU) sanctions, is heading to Russia on Friday to meet his counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders will discuss further developing their countries’ ties when they get together in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, according to the Kremlin.

Friday’s meeting will be the third between the two leaders already this year, dpa news agency reported.

Before embarking on the trip, Lukashenko had said that he will also discuss the consequences of EU and US sanctions, which are currently hitting Belarus especially hard.

Minsk already owes Moscow billions, but Putin has recently repeatedly emphasized that the Kremlin would continue to support Lukashenko.

The meeting is taking place less than a week after Belarus forced a passenger plane to make an emergency landing in Minsk, saying there was a bomb threat aboard, which turned out to be an unfounded claim, and sending a fighter jet to accompany the Ryanair flight.

Roman Protasevich, a 26-year-old dissident journalist, and his partner were taken into custody after the landing, prompting a raft of measures by the EU, including restricted access to the bloc’s airspace for Belarusian carriers.

On Wednesday, the long-time Belarusian leader defended the decision to force land the aircraft, saying that “I acted lawfully by protecting people, according to all international rules”.

Protasevich is a “terrorist”, Lukashenko said, adding that the blogger was planning a “bloody uprising” in Belarus.

IANS / AGENCY

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