Lukashenko presents Russian space boss with pork fat as a gift

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko kept his gift-giving simple when he met the head of Russia’s space agency.

During a visit to Star City in the Moscow Region, where the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center is located, Lukashenko presented a traditional regional delicacy to Roscosmos Director General Yuri Borisov.

“This is Shoigu’s favorite salo,” Lukashenko said, referring to Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s favorite version of cured lard slabs, which are considered one of Ukraine’s favorite dishes and are also popular across Eastern Europe.

It was a far cry from the tractor Lukashenko reportedly gave Vladimir Putin for his birthday on October 7. The Belarusian leader also gifted Borisov with freshly baked bread on Saturday, telling him: “That was baked this morning,” Russia’s RIA news agency reported.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at the Independence Palace December 19, 2022, in Minsk, Belarus. Lukashenko is in Russia, where he will meet with Vladimir Putin during a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit beginning December 26, 2022.
Getty Images

This week, Borisov’s predecessor in charge of the state space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, had splinters in his spine after he was reportedly wounded in shelling in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

The war in Ukraine is the backdrop to Lukashenko’s visit to Russia, where he will attend a Moscow-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit in St Petersburg on December 26-27, where he will meet with Putin .

This comes just days after leaders spoke in Minsk at a meeting that sparked speculation about what it could mean for Belarus’ involvement in the war.

In Belarus, which Putin used as a base for an attack on Ukraine earlier in the war, there was an accumulation of Russian troops and equipment.

So far, Lukashenko has avoided direct involvement in Putin’s war, but Moscow is said to be creating the conditions for a renewed invasion of northern Ukraine, possibly targeting Kyiv, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Franak Viačorka, chief political adviser to exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, said the meetings between Putin and Lukashenko have both a symbolic and a practical aspect.

“Lukashenko is a very useful ally for Putin,” he said news week“He is the only ally in the war and for him it is important to convey the image of a coalition to the international audience.”

Viačorka said that Lukashenko “is very obedient to Putin and will do whatever he wants,” and the Belarusian leader is counting on his Russian counterpart to maintain his power, especially after the widely criticized 2020 elections.

“Lukashenko is interested in having the status quo at war… because the world’s attention is on Ukraine, not Belarus, so he can step up repression.”

news week has asked the Belarusian Foreign Ministry for comment. Lukashenko presents Russian space boss with pork fat as a gift

Rick Schindler

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