Daily Memo: Putin-Lukashenko Meeting, Space for Talks in the Mediterranean

With protests in Belarus showing no sign of stopping, the president is meeting his Russian counterpart in Sochi.

Lukashenko goes to Sochi. Large-scale protests continued in 28 Belarusian cities on Sunday, including in the capital of Minsk, where estimates of participation ranged from 22,000 (the government’s figure) to more than 150,000. Authorities arrested 774 protesters, including more than 500 in Minsk. This came on the eve of President Alexander Lukashenko’s Monday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia. During their meeting, Putin announced a $1.5 billion loan for Belarus. Lukashenko’s leading rival in last month’s presidential election that set off the protests, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, appealed to Putin before the meeting, saying any agreements adopted would lack legal force and would be revised by the “new government.” Nevertheless, there are reportedly no plans for a formal agreement or press conference at the Putin-Lukashenko talks. Meanwhile, NATO started its annual Tobruq Legacy exercises on Monday in Lithuania. About 1,000 soldiers from Europe and the U.S., as well as Patriot air defense systems, will be involved in the exercises, which are set to last until Sept. 25. Belarus’ defense minister expressed concern about the proximity of the drills to the Belarusian border. Ukraine also scaled up its security presence along its border with Belarus. But Belarus and Russia will […]

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