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Feb 20, 2015

After Ukraine mediation, EU looks to embrace Lukashenko

MINSK/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s hosting of Ukraine peace talks may be having a side effect — thawing relations between the European Union and a man the West calls “Europe’s last dictator”.

A meeting in Minsk on Friday with the foreign minister of neighbouring Latvia, travelling in his capacity as chair of the EU ministerial council, marked another step in what diplomats say is an accelerating process that could see some easing of sanctions on Lukashenko and even an invitation to a May summit.

Feb 13, 2015

To reach Ukraine accord: high diplomacy, ‘dirty games’ and pig’s fat

MINSK, Feb 13 (Reuters) – The talks lasted more than 17
hours, during which a couple of “buckets” of coffee were drunk,
and took place in what Ukraine’s foreign minister, with some
understatement, described as a “difficult psychological

The ‘family photograph’ of participants at the start of the
four-power marathon in the Belarussian capital Minsk told much
of the story in advance: Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko
stood at one end of the line-up – with the leaders of Germany
and France keeping him well apart from Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Feb 1, 2015

Ukraine peace talks collapse, Kiev and separatists trade blame

MINSK/KIEV (Reuters) – Peace talks on Ukraine collapsed on Saturday after just over four hours with no tangible progress towards a new ceasefire but with Ukraine’s representative and separatist envoys angrily accusing each other of sabotaging the meeting.

Ukraine’s representative, former president Leonid Kuchma, left the talks in Minsk, Belarus, telling Interfax news agency that separatist officials had undermined the meeting by making ultimatums and refusing “to discuss a plan of measures for a quick ceasefire and a pull-back of heavy weapons”.

Jan 31, 2015

Ukraine, rebels gather for peace talks as fighting rages in east

MINSK/KIEV (Reuters) – A new round of peace talks were about to start on the Ukraine crisis on Saturday, even as fighting between Kiev government forces and pro-Russian separatists raged in the east, claiming civilian and military lives.

A Reuters reporter in the Belarussian capital saw the main participants in the so-called ‘contact group’ — including Ukrainian former president Leonid Kuchma, a Russian diplomat and rebel officials — arrive at Minsk airport and then drive off towards the city.

Jan 30, 2015

Ukraine peace talks aborted as civilians die in east

DONETSK, Ukraine/MINSK (Reuters) – Civilians were killed on both sides in heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine on Friday, while an attempt to reopen peace talks in neighboring Belarus was aborted before it began.

Rebel delegates flew to the Belarus capital Minsk, only to announce that no talks would take place on Friday and they were flying straight back to Moscow. Any talks would be the first since a five-month-old ceasefire collapsed with a new rebel advance last week.

Jan 29, 2015

Belarus may seek restructuring if hard to pay $4 bln debt-Lukashenko

MINSK, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Belarus might seek restructuring
of $4 billion of foreign- currency debt falling due this year if
repayment becomes difficult, Belarussian President Alexander
Lukashenko said on Thursday.

The surprise restructuring talk by the veteran Belarussian
leader triggered a fall of 27 cents to the dollar in the value
of Belarussian sovereign bonds, but Lukashenko told bondholders
not to worry about Minsk’s ability to service its debt.

Jan 14, 2015

Russia’s financial crisis may bury Putin’s Eurasian dream

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.

Jan 8, 2015

Belarus devalues currency again to protect against Russian economic fallout

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

Dec 18, 2014

Belarus’s Lukashenko demands that trade with Russia be in dollars, euros

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

Oct 10, 2014

Ex-Soviet states bicker as Putin tries to unite them

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.