Russia will provide all necessary help to Belarus, which has faced economic and political sanctions from the European Union, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Thursday.
“It’s is not only about military and technical cooperation. It’s about inter-governmental cooperation in general,” Rogozin, Russia’s former envoy to NATO, told journalists in Moscow following talks with Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko.
“I can say one thing: we will stand up for our Belarusian colleagues,” he added.
The EU announced in late February it had blacklisted another 21 Belarusian officials over their alleged involvement in what human rights groups have described as an ongoing government crackdown on the opposition. The move was followed by a diplomatic spat between Minsk and the EU, in which the European bloc recalled all its ambassadors from Belarus “for consultations” after Minsk expelled the head of the EU delegation to Belarus and the Polish envoy in response to new sanctions.
Some 200 Belarusian officials are currently on the EU blacklist, including President Alexander Lukashenko, two of his sons, and most of the country's top leadership. They have been banned from entering the EU and their European assets have been frozen.
Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan have criticized the EU sanctions, saying they could pose a threat to the Customs Union between the three countries.