Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko and his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin meet on Monday in the Russian resort of Sochi on the Black Sea.
According to the Kremlin, the two are holding a “working meeting” on strategic cooperation and trade and energy projects.
The talks are taking place against the background of the massive protests that broke out immediately after the presidential election on 9 August, which Lukashenko won by 80 percent, according to official figures.
Many people do not believe this: according to them, the victory belongs to opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Campaigners are therefore demanding Lukashenko’s resignation. The protests are cracked down, and several opposition leaders are detained.
Moscow has pledged aid to the neighbouring country and is keeping a police force on hand should things get out of hand. President Putin said he has troops in reserve to assist law enforcement officials in Belarus if necessary.
According to Putin, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko had asked for this. Putin said he would only use those reserves when the situation in Belarus gets entirely out of hand at the hands of criminals or extremists.