The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has reprimanded Russian Ambassador to Minsk Mikhail Babich and advised him to show more respect for the host country and its sovereignty.
“During his short time of working in Belarus he has simply failed to understand the differences between a federal district and an independent state,” said the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, commenting on Babich’s interview for RIA Novosti, in which he said that Minsk’s financial support from the Kremlin will only continue if there is further integration.
Between 2000 and 2010, Russia sent Belarus $2-3 billion in financial assistance on an annual basis, but, according to Babich, this amount has risen to $5-6 billion in recent years.
Minsk is now demanding Russia’s internal gas prices, compensation for a tax maneuver in the oil sector, subsidies for Belarusian companies from Russia’s federal budget, cheap loans, and the protection of the share of Belarusian goods on the Russian market.
“Overall this is a fair question. But without a practical implementation of the provisions of the Union Treaty for a unified monetary, credit... and other policy, it is impossible to transition to such a level of integration,” Babich said, hinting at the introduction of a single currency.
The ambassador should “devote more time to trying to understand the specifics of the host country and show a little respect,” the Belarusian Foreign Ministry responded on Friday, emphasizing that all the statements by the Russian diplomat are similar, and that the “mentoring line of reasoning doesn’t change much”.
“But it is his right to determine for himself the bar that turns him into a bookkeeper or a budding accountant,” the department said.
In January, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that he is not opposed to adopting a unified currency with Russia, provided it is not the Russian ruble.
In November last year, Lukashenko refused to allow the deployment of a Russian base in the country, citing fears that it would put Belarus at risk of a NATO attack.