Russian President Vladimir Putin was “effectively blackmailed” by his presidential counterpart of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, who demanded the Kremlin allow more refugees to enter Russia, Russian media reported.
“Putin met Lukashenko for an hour and the Belarusian leader issued an ultimatum to the Russian leader,” Alexander Litvinenko, editor-in-chief of the Rossiskaya Gazeta news site, wrote in a Tuesday article, cited by Russian news agencies.
Lukashenko, considered Europe’s last dictator, issued the ultimatum to Putin because the Kremlin had refused to allow the influx of migrants the ex-Soviet nation is experiencing, Litvinenko wrote.
He quoted Lukashenko as saying that “it is obvious that millions of migrants currently living outside [his country] could cross into Russia if the situation continued to develop the way it was at the end of 2017. That would threaten the population of St. Petersburg with an undesirable outcome.”
Putin, allegedly “unwilling to listen to such long-winded appeals from a dictator,” angered Lukashenko by rejecting “a system of compulsory VAST migration and controlled settlement,” Litvinenko wrote. Lukashenko also threatened to impose taxes on every Russian who went to the neighboring country, the article said.
Lukashenko was quoted as saying that Russia’s refusal to give into the Russian president’s demands would have a cost, citing Moscow’s support for controversial politicians in Belarus and Ukraine.
“However, the main decision was made: if you must give in to the demands of your dictator, we’re going to pick the bill and pay that bill,” Lukashenko was quoted as saying.
There was no confirmation of the article’s accuracy by the Kremlin or the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.
Putin has reportedly met with Lukashenko repeatedly during his 11 years in power, according to the Financial Times.