Lukashenko wants access to Russian Arctic seaports

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - February 2, 2024
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Aleksandr Lukashenko is gradually making his Belarus a part of the Russian Federation. Photo: president.gov.by (edited)
The ruler in Minsk intends to make the north Russian ports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk a part of his union state deal with Moscow.

Aleksandr Lukashenko is Vladimir Putin’s closest ally and the state ruler that most frequently pays visits to Russia.

This week, the disputed leader went to St.Petersburg where he attended the Kremlin’s commemoration of the 1941-1944 Leningrad Siege and a meeting in the so-called Union State.

Lukashenko wants to integrate his republic in the Russian Federation and calls for the development of infrastructure that can help boost Belarusian exports through Russian ports.

Among priorities is the expansion of transport capacities on Russia’s October Railway that ultimately can enhance Belarusian export from the seaport of St.Petersburg. But Lukashenko is also pushing for the use of the seaports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk.

“We would really want the program for the Northern Sea Route to be more quickly implemented so that it will be easier for us to work,” Lukashenko said in this week’s meeting.

The statements follow several meetings with regional leaders and business representatives in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk.

In December last year, Belarusian Ambassador Dmitry Krutoy met with Arkhangelsk Governor Aleksandr Tsybulsky to discuss shipments from the Arkhangelsk Seaport.

“Belarusian companies are interested in the shipment of goods through the Arkhangelsk Sea Trade Port in order to re-orient its connections away from Western Europe to Russia,” Tsybulsky said in a comment on Telegram after the talks.

The two men met again this week.

There has been close contacts also between Minsk and the Government of Murmansk. In September 2022, Governor Andrei Chibis paid a visit to Minsk where he discussed trade issues with Lukashenko. In June 2023, Belarus Premier Roman Golovchenko followed up with a visit to Murmansk.

Among the Belarusian commodities planned exported from Murmansk and Arkhangelsk is fertilisers.

The integration of Belarus into the Russian Federation picked pace following 2020 when Lukashenko was assisted by Russian security services to crack down on massive anti-government demonstration following the fraudulent presidential elections.

 


Located in Kirkenes, Norway, just a few kilometres from the borders to Russia and Finland, the Barents Observer is dedicated to cross-border journalism in Scandinavia, Russia and the wider Arctic.

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