President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said on Wednesday that Russia's decision to grant a $1.5 billion loan to Belarus was made at his insistence, BelTA agency reports.
"I must tell you that it was my insistence. Both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister suggested it to me that we should pay off this loan - this year we had to repay a billion (to Russia - TASS) on our old debt. Despite all the difficulties, we were ready to return this billion. This is not a new loan. It was my request to the leadership of Russia that we will not pay this billion this year, we will keep it and postpone it to the next year. The interest rate there is acceptable. So it is a matter of refinancing," Lukashenko said at a meeting in Minsk, TASS reports.
In late August, Lukashenko announced that Belarus would hold talks with Russia on refinancing the republic's state debt for $1 billion. Belarus’ Finance Minister Yuri Seliverstov previously noted that in total this year the country must pay about $3.6 billion in foreign currency national debt and $2 billion of that amount had already been paid. According to the republic’s Finance Ministry, as of July 2020, Belarus’ foreign debt amounted to $18 billion
Earlier, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters that the loan to Belarus will be granted in two stages - $1 billion in 2020 and another $500 million in 2021.