Russian and Belarusian presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko have had a phone call to confirm their mutual intention to keep strengthening the alliance between the two countries, the Kremlin press service reported following the leaders’ conversation.
"It was underlined with pleasure that the governments, ministries and agencies of the two states are taking specific steps to keep strengthening bilateral cooperation in all spheres, including inter-regional ties," the statement reads. "Overall, the mutual intention to keep strengthening the alliance between Russia and Belarus was reaffirmed."
The phone call was initiated by Belarus and touched upon the current issues on the bilateral agenda with an emphasis placed on implementation of agreements reached during their meeting in Sochi. The presidents also agreed to maintain contacts on various levels, TASS reports.
Supplies of anti-COVID vaccine to Belarus
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has thanked his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for anti-coronavirus vaccine supplies to his country, the Kremlin press service said on Friday after their telephone conversation.
"Alexander Lukashenko expressed gratitude for Russia’s help in combating the coronavirus infection, first of all, for the decision to supply the Russian anti-coronavirus vaccine to Belarus on a priority basis," the press service said.
During his talks with the Belarusian president in Sochi on September 14, Putin said that Belarus had joined the final stage of Russian anti-coronavirus vaccine trials. According to the Russian leader, it will help both organize production and ensure a due level of vaccination.
On August 11, Russia registered the world’s first vaccine against the novel coronavirus. The vaccine, dubbed Sputnik V, was developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Health Ministry, with its clinical trials being successfully completed in June-July. The vaccine was developed on a platform that had been used for a number of other vaccines. According to the Russian Health Ministry, these vaccines have proved their ability to form lasting immunity for a period of up to two years.
The leaders paid special attention to the Nagorno-Karabakh escalation. "Special attention was paid to the escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," the Kremlin press service said.
Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, with intense battles raging in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The area experienced flare-ups of violence in the summer of 2014, in April 2016 and this past July. Azerbaijan and Armenia have imposed martial law and launched mobilization efforts. Both parties to the conflict have reported casualties, among them civilians.
Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko are keeping in touch regularly by phone or in person. The leaders last met in Sochi on September 14. Before that, Lukashenko travelled to Russia and met with Putin on June 30, at the Rzhev Memorial unveiling ceremony in the Tver Region. A few days earlier, the Belarusian leader attended Moscow’s Victory Parade on June 24.
The leaders spoke on the phone a few times throughout August. On August 7, before the Belarusian presidential election, the two presidents discussed in particular the detention of 33 Russians in Belarus. The day after the elections, on August 10, Putin sent a congratulatory telegram to Lukashenko.
As Belarus plunged into political turmoil, the Russian-Belarusian ties were visibly reinvigorated.