Talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko have begun in Sochi, stated Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov, as cited by TASS .
"Talks have begun," he said, answering a question.
According to Telegram-channel "Pool One" close to Lukashenko's press service, the protocol part of the meeting has ended.
The President of Belarus arrived in Sochi on a working visit on the morning of September 14. As reported by Lukashenko's press service, the talks will be held in a one-on-one format. Later this information was confirmed by Peskov.
The Kremlin also said that the presidents are going to discuss further development of strategic partnership and alliance between the countries. In particular, Putin and Lukashenko will touch on the implementation of major joint projects in trade, economic, energy and cultural and humanitarian areas, as well as prospects to promote integration processes within the Union State.
In addition, the presidents will touch on "the situation in the region, issues of joint response to emerging challenges," Lukashenko said in a statement on his website.
Peskov claimed that the talks between Putin and Lukashenko have no time restrictions and will last as long as it takes.
This is Lukashenko's first foreign visit after the presidential elections in Belarus which were held between August 4 and August 9. According to the Central Election Commission of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years, received 80.1% of the vote, and 10.1% voted for his main opponent Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
The results of the elections in Belarus were not recognized by the United States, Canada, Great Britain and the countries of the European Union, including Belarus’ geographical neighbors - Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
The Belarusian opposition also did not recognize the results of the elections because of mass fraud at polling stations and formed the Coordinating Council for the Transfer of Power. Since August 10, after the announcement of preliminary results, protests began in the country. They have been severely suppressed by the country's security forces. Protesters are demanding new elections.
Earlier,at Lukashenko's request, Putin formed a reserve of law enforcement officers, which, according to the Russian president, will not be used until "extremist elements" start to set fire to cars, banks, and seize administrative buildings.
Lukashenko, for his part, noted that "no soldiers from Russia have yet crossed the border." However, he stressed that neither he nor Putin "will flinch neither his voice, nor his hand, nor the foot in order to tackle anyone who twitches on the western border of the Union State."
According to many political scientists, public figures of Russia and ordinary citizens, one small provocation will be sufficient for Putin to deploy the reserve forces to Belarus.