Following meetings between the two nations’ presidents amid outrage in the West over the grounding of a passenger flight in Minsk and the arrest of a dissident blogger, Russia will proceed with a second $500 million loan to Belarus next month, Reuters reports.
On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko enjoyed a second day of discussions, as well as a boat cruise, in the southern Russian city of Sochi, as the Russian leader demonstrated his longtime ally’s support in the ongoing confrontation with the West.
Belarus received a $1.5 billion loan from Russia last year as part of Moscow’s attempts to stabilize its neighbor. In October, Minsk got the first installment of $500 million.
Belarus is expected to receive the second payment by the end of June, according to the Russian news agency RIA.
After Belarusian air traffic control warned the captain of a Ryanair passenger flight of a false bomb threat, many Western countries accused Belarus of piracy this week.
Minsk dispatched a MiG-29 fighter jet to accompany the airliner down, and then detained Roman Protasevich, a blogger and Lukashenko opponent who was on board.
Protasevich’s girlfriend, a Russian citizen, was also arrested.
Putin brought up Sofia Sapega on Saturday, according to the TASS news agency, quoting Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
He also stated that the Kremlin will take note of Sapega’s Belarusian resident status.
The day of negotiations ended with a boat cruise in Sochi for Putin and Lukashenko. The two leaders looked to be smiling and seeing dolphins off the Russian shore in a video.
Following the forced landing of a Ryanair plane en way to Lithuania from Greece on Sunday, most of Belarus’ neighbors and several other European countries have banned flights by Belarusian state carrier Belavia.
According to Interfax, the topic of air travel for Belarusian people was mentioned at Saturday’s discussion, with Peskov adding that the transport ministries of Moscow and Minsk had been entrusted with assisting Belarusian people now in Europe in returning home.