MINSK/ALMATY/TBILISI (Reuters) – Growing damage from Russia’s financial crisis on neighboring former Soviet states could bury President Vladimir Putin’s dream of creating an economic union to rival the United States and European Union.
From Belarus on the European Union’s fringe to Kazakhstan on the border with China, some of those once firmly in Moscow’s grip are now questioning whether Russia has what it takes to lead.
MINSK, Jan 8 (Reuters) – Belarus took further emergency
steps on Thursday to defend itself from economic turmoil in
Russia, devaluing its currency by around 7 percent for the
second time this week, raising its main refinancing rate and
imposing a new export tax on potash.
Former Soviet countries are feeling the pain as Russia,
often the main trading partner, suffers from Western sanctions
over Ukraine and a sliding oil price, which sent the Russian
rouble down by about 40 percent against the dollar last
MINSK, Dec 18 (Reuters) – Belarussian President Alexander
Lukashenko has demanded that Belarus’s transactions with Russia
be settled in dollars or euros because of the slump in the value
of Russia’s rouble, the official news agency Belta reported on
The Russian rouble suffered its largest intraday loss
since 1998 on Tuesday and its weakness poses a threat to the
economy of Belarus, a close ally whose main trading partner is
MINSK (Reuters) – Vulgar chants about Vladimir Putin before he arrived for a regional summit in Belarus did not augur well for the Russian president’s hopes of bringing the leaders of former Soviet republics closer together.
Matters got even worse when bickering broke out at the start of the meeting, revealing fault lines over the Ukraine crisis and deepening doubts about the future of the loose grouping known as the Commonwealth of Independent States.
MINSK (Reuters) – Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels reached a ceasefire agreement on Friday, the first step toward ending fighting in eastern Ukraine that has caused the worst standoff between Moscow and the West since the Cold War ended.
The ceasefire deal was struck in the Belarussian capital Minsk along with a deal allowing for prisoner exchanges, deliveries of humanitarian aid and the withdrawal of heavy weapons after five months of a conflict that has killed more than 2,600 people.
MINSK, Sept 5 (Reuters) – Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels
agreed a ceasefire on Friday, the first step towards ending a
conflict in eastern Ukraine that has caused the worst standoff
between Moscow and the West since the Cold War ended.
The deal, taking effect from 1500 GMT, was agreed at peace
talks with representatives of Russia and the OSCE security and
rights group in the Belarussian capital Minsk.
MINSK, Aug 26 (Reuters) – The leaders of Russia and Ukraine
agreed on Tuesday on the need to “de-escalate” the conflict in
eastern Ukraine but fundamental differences remain, the
Belarussian president who hosted the talks said.
After about six hours of negotiations with their Belarussian
and Kazakhstan counterparts and top European Union officials,
presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Petro Poroshenko of
Ukraine began a one-on-one meeting, officials on both sides
MINSK/KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine released a video of captured Russian soldiers on Tuesday, sharply escalating a dispute over Moscow’s alleged backing for separatist rebels in the east of the former Soviet republic.
The footage was released only hours before the two countries’ presidents were due to meet for the first time since June to discuss the conflict, which has killed more than 2,000 people and provoked Western sanctions against Russia.
MINSK/KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine released video footage on Tuesday of what it said were Russian soldiers captured on its territory, only hours before the presidents of the two countries were due to meet for the first time in months.
In Moscow, a military source told Russian news agencies that a group of soldiers had surrendered to Ukrainian forces after crossing the border by accident.
MINSK/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Moscow dispatched top veterinary officials to Belarus on Tuesday after the neighboring country, which has a free trade zone with Russia, said it would not become a back-door conduit for banned Western food products.
Last week Russia banned imports of fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, scallops, milk and dairy from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway in retaliation for Western sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.