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Cooperation of the Lukashenko regime with the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine

Lukashenko meets with the head of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic Denis Pushilin
Lukashenko meets with the head of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic Denis Pushilin. Source:

The Lukashenko regime, fearing new sanctions, does not always want to advertise its cooperation with the administration of the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, as well as the development of all kinds of ties and contacts with them: economic, informational and ideological, political and others. But these ties and contacts are, in fact, quite extensive.

Such ties and contacts began even before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops on 24 February 2022. In particular, the Lukashenko regime actively traded with the Russian-occupied Donbass. According to some estimates, even before 2020, exports from the so-called "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR) to Belarus could account for about 5% of the total exports of the self-proclaimed pseudo-state (these were primarily consumer goods), while imports from Belarus to the "DPR" - about 25% (these were mainly consumer goods: meat and dairy products, alcohol, etc.).

Trade between Belarus and the occupied territories of Ukraine took place in an illegal format at the level of individual legal entities with the mediation of Russian companies. In essence, it was a shadow business. For instance, Lilia Sivakova, deputy general director of the confectionery factory "Kommunarka'' on commercial issues openly admitted that "Yes, we work with Donetsk - these are direct deliveries. We supply chocolate, chocolate sweets ... We have no problems there, we work on prepayment. They pay in Russian roubles ...Donetsk accounts for a few percent of our exports".

Nikolai Tokar, the first deputy director of the Kobrin Butter and Cheese Factory, also said that his company supplied cheese and cottage cheese through a Russian firm, which was an official distributor. "The destination is specifically marked in the documents as Donetsk, Luhansk. In the documents it is designated NOT as Ukrainian territory," the deputy director noted, "We supply about 20 tonnes a month there."

Vladimir Popenya, director of the Berezovsky cheese factory, even described the scheme of trade with Donetsk and Luhansk occupied by Russian militants, admitting that his company did it without advertising its contacts: "We work successfully, with two companies, there are no claims ... Everything is going well, according to plan".

In occupied Donetsk and Luhansk, there are even separate retail outlets that position themselves as official sellers of Belarusian products. For example, it is the salon "Doors of Belorussia" in Luhansk or the shop "Furniture of Belorussia" in Donetsk, selling products of the enterprise "Bobruiskmebel".

For example, Master-Torg LLC is a major distributor of food products from Belarus to the so-called "DPR" and "LPR". In particular, Master-Torg is actively engaged in importing Belarusian beer to the occupied territories. Thus, the Belarusian state brewing company "Krinitsa" supplied products to Master-Torg LLC, and even made a special brand of beer "Yuzbir" for this purpose. However, Krinitsa did not supply beer directly, but through a shell company.

In addition, the private factory Slavprodukt bottled vodka by order of the Donetsk company Belsvit, a major importer of Belarusian alcoholic beverages to the DPR. The scheme of work was as follows: “Belsvit” hired a Belarusian carrier, who transported the products through Russia to the occupied Donetsk. Another scheme of deliveries to the occupied territories was through Huge Sky LTD registered in Hong Kong. Mozyr Distillery operated in this way, which even came under Ukrainian sanctions in 2019 for this.

But, after February 2022, the Lukashenko regime's contacts with the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine became even more intensive and, most importantly, in addition to the economic one, reached the official political level.

For example, in May 2022, the Belarusian plant MTZ signed contracts with the self-proclaimed "DPR" and "LPR" for the supply of tractors, and on 27 July 2022, a delegation of the so-called "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR) visited Brest. The head of the delegation, Denis Pushilin, said that together with the deputy chairman of the Brest Regional Executive Committee Dzmitry Horodetski, the chairman of the City Council of Deputies Nikolai Krasovsky, and the head of the regional organization "Belaya Rus" Alexander Bakhanovich, they discussed the prospects of interaction between the Brest region of Belarus and the "Donetsk People's Republic" (DNR).

[Photo] Andrei Turchak and Denis Pushilin in Brest
[Photo] Andrei Turchak and Denis Pushilin in Brest. Source:

Belarus also paid visits to the occupied territories, but they were much less representative. In June 2022, Oleg Gaidukevich, a member of Lukashenko's parliament and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus, visited the self-proclaimed "DPR". And a delegation from Belarus, which arrived in Lugansk in December 2022, consisting mainly of representatives of so-called veterans' organisations and propagandists (the chairman of the organising committee of the Belarusian party "Union" Sergey Lushch and propagandist of the STV TV channel Grigory Azarenok), said that they would help establish a Belarusian national-cultural society in the "LNR".

Already in March 2023, representatives of the Russian occupation administrations stated that they wanted to attract investments from Belarus to the Russian-occupied territories. Lukashenko, in turn, also began to declare his readiness to help with the reconstruction of Donbass. During Russia's aggression against Ukraine, Lukashenko's regime started a number of what he himself called "humanitarian" actions in the occupied territories of Ukraine, primarily organizing the illegal export of Ukrainian children to Belarus.

Finally, on 18 April 2023, self-proclaimed President Alexander Lukashenko held a meeting with Denis Pushilin, the acting head of the so-called "DNR" as the person in the status of the head of the subject of the Russian Federation, during which he offered assistance in the restoration and development of this Russian-occupied territory.

"There is a lot of work ahead. We have to rebuild. We have to revive industrial enterprises, agriculture. Eventually people will live there. This is 100 per cent. And people need to be supplied with food. That is why we are ready to provide appropriate assistance and support so that people who are not strangers to us finally stop suffering there. That is why I am waiting for such a frank conversation from you. Let's share our opinions," Lukashenko said at the time.

As a result of this meeting, a sharp intensification of contacts between the occupation administration and the illegitimate authorities of Belarus began. Already on 8 June 2023, the so-called Minister of Agro-Industrial Policy and Food of the "DPR" Artem Kramarenko held a working meeting with the former Minister of Agriculture and Food of Belarus Igor Brylo.

A few days later, on the margins of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which was held from 14 to 17 June 2023, the head of the so-called "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR), Denis Pushilin, and Ambassador of Belarus to Russia, Dmitri Krutoy, signed an agreement on cooperation. The parties agreed to develop cooperation in agriculture, machine-building, coal industry and food supplies.

In June 2023, the so-called chairman of the government of the " DPR" Yevgeni Solntsev said that the first company from Belarus had started exporting grain through the port of Mariupol. According to a representative of the occupation administration, the unnamed firm had rented warehouses by that time and had been working in the port for about two months. In August 2023, Yevgeny Solntsev and the heads of the relevant ministries of the "DPR" familiarized themselves with the work of two Belarusian companies - MAZ and the management company of the holding company Amkodor. The delegates outlined plans for further cooperation with Belarusian enterprises.

In particular, Solntsev signed a cooperation agreement with Amkodor, a major machinery manufacturer. "There is a very solid design group here, which will be able to design machinery 'to order'. Of any complexity. In a short period of time. We count on long-term cooperation," an official of the Russian occupation administration wrote at the time. The parties also agreed on the supply of MAZ vehicles, and the management of the Minsk car plant was interested in the proposal to localize part of the assembly production on the territory of the " DPR".

Also in August 2023, the self-proclaimed DPR, already acting as a federal subject of Russia, signed a cooperation agreement with Mogilevliftmash. The delegation of the "DPR" also visited the production facilities of "Mogotex" and "First Industrial Company", promising to buy Belarusian products there as well. In total, as Yevgeny Solntsev noted, the preliminary package of agreements with Belarusian enterprises is estimated at 3 billion Russian rubles a year. 

Cooperation of Belarusian enterprises with the occupied territories of Ukraine also took place within the framework of various humanitarian actions. For example, the so-called "DPR" received 12 tonnes of wallpaper (about 14,000 rolls, which were to be used in Novoazovsk district) from a Belarusian enterprise. For this, the occupation administration of the Novoazovsk district of the DPR even awarded a commendation to the OJSC UKH "Belarusian Wallpaper" represented by its general director Aleksandr Vladimirovich Kolyada.

Passing tractors, laptops, projectors and screens to educational institutions of the LPR and DPR
Passing tractors, laptops, projectors and screens to educational institutions of the LPR and DPR. Screenshot from video:

In September 2023, the State Secretary of the Union State of Belarus and Russia, Dzmitry Mezentsev, gave 100 Belarusian-made laptops and four MTZ tractors to educational institutions of the self-proclaimed "LPR" as part of the "humanitarian aid" decided by Lukashenko and Putin.

In addition to economic cooperation, contacts intensified at the level of public organizations created by the Lukashenko regime. In particular, the so-called Youth Parliament at the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus is actively working in this direction. Back on 12 August 2022, Vladimir Moskalenko, coordinator of the Association of Youth Parliaments of the Volga Federal District of Russia, held a video conference with the chairmen of the youth parliaments of the "LPR", "DPR" and the Republic of Belarus.

Delivery of more than 200 kg of stationery for the educational institution LDNR from the association "Belaya Rus"
Delivery of more than 200 kg of stationery for the educational institution LDNR from the association "Belaya Rus". Source:

And already on 4 November 2023 (on the Russian holiday "the day of national unity") in Donetsk there was a meeting of representatives of the youth parliament at the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus and the chamber of young legislators at the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation with the so-called "chairman of the people's council of the Donetsk People's Republic" Artem Vladimirovich Zhoga. At the end of this meeting the Chairman of the Youth Parliament of Belarus Nikita Rachilovsky handed a certificate of honor of the Youth Parliament to Artem Zhoga and thanked him for his support and active cooperation.

At the same time an agreement was signed between the Youth Parliament of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus and the Youth Parliament of the "DPR", which received a letter of thanks from Nikita Rachilovsky for cooperation for the benefit of the youth of the Union State. The Belarusian Republican Youth Union, the largest youth organization of the Lukashenko regime, is also actively developing cooperation with Russian youth organizations in the occupied territories.

In addition to cooperation with the "LPR" and "DPR", the illegitimate authorities of Belarus are developing official relations with the occupied Crimea. In early March 2023, the leadership of the Vitebsk Regional Executive Committee and the authorities of Crimea, annexed by Russia, signed an agreement on trade and economic cooperation. The head of the occupation administration of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, and the chairman of the Vitebsk regional executive committee, Alexander Subbotin, agreed to strengthen relations between the regions and outlined the prospects for joint work. Aksyonov then stressed that "Belarusian enterprises are always welcome on the Crimean land.

According to the official website of the Lukashenko Administration, the state medical institution "Sanatorium "Belarus" - an organization located in Yalta, Crimea, and owned by the Lukashenko administration, is located on the territory of Russia, i.e. the administration admitted that Crimea belongs to the Russian Federation. In turn, the head of the parliamentary commission on international affairs, MP Andrei Savinykh, said on the air of the Russian program "Solovyov live" that de facto and de jure Crimea had been recognized by the Belarusian side as Russian. By such actions, the Lukashenko regime officially denies the territorial integrity of Ukraine and directly recognises the annexation of Ukrainian territories by Russia.

In addition, the illegitimate authorities of Belarus decided to open a consulate general of the Republic of Belarus in Rostov-on-Don no later than 1 July 2024 instead of the embassy branch. This consular district will include the regions of Ukraine occupied by Russia. And this is only a small part of the facts of cooperation of the Lukashenko regime with the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine.


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