Belarus’ leader Alexander Lukashenko (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin enjoy a close relationship
Moscow does not financially support any other country as generously as it does Belarus. DW spoke with economic experts to learn about this lopsided relationship, and the strain it places on the Russian budget.
Russia has supported its western neighbor Belarus for decades — long before the European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on Minsk and President Alexander Lukashenko. Earlier this summer, Moscow loaned its ally $500 million (€423 million) — six months prior, it had issued Lukashenko’s regime a similar sum.
Looking on from the outside, such figures appear to be a largish run-of-the-mill loan that one country grants another and for which interest is collected. But the situation with Belarus and Russia is different. According to observers: interest is mounting and debts carry on growing year in and year out, yet Minsk continues to receive new loans from Moscow.
Russia has been subsidizing its neighbor for years. Between 2005 and 2015, Moscow pumped $106 billion into the Belarus economy, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
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WNU Editor: The IMF report that Russia has subsidized Belarus to the tune of $106 billion between 2005 and 2015 is probably correct. And that support has even grown even more since 2015.
But that is the history of the Kremlin when it comes to giving support to other countries.
$6 billion a year to Cuba when the Soviet Union existed, and money that has since been written off.
$40 to $50 billion a year to Ukraine before that relationship imploded in 2014 (and is one of the reasons why the Ukraine economy is still floundering).
Venezuela owes Russia approximately $60 billion for arms purchases and other aid.
And then there is Russian support of the Assad regime in Syria. God only knows how much money that disaster is costing.
Update: This would be a catastrophe …. Belarus leader ready to invite Russian troops ‘if necessary’ (AP). More here …. Belarus leader would ‘not hesitate’ to invite Russian troops if needed (Reuters).