Lukashenko wants access to Russian Arctic seaports

A 2021 file photo of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko. (Nikolai Petrov/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)

The ruler in Minsk intends to make the north Russian ports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk a part of his union state deal with Moscow.

Aleksandr Lukashenko is Vladimir Putin’s closest ally and the state ruler that most frequently pays visits to Russia.

This week, the disputed leader went to St.Petersburg where he attended the Kremlin’s commemoration of the 1941-1944 Leningrad Siege and a meeting in the so-called Union State.

Lukashenko wants to integrate his republic in the Russian Federation and calls for the development of infrastructure that can help boost Belarusian exports through Russian ports.

Among priorities is the expansion of transport capacities on Russia’s October Railway that ultimately can enhance Belarusian export from the seaport of St.Petersburg. But Lukashenko is also pushing for the use of the seaports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk.

“We would really want the program for the Northern Sea Route to be more quickly implemented so that it will be easier for us to work,” Lukashenko said in this week’s meeting.

Port business in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk

The statements follow several meetings with regional leaders and business representatives in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk.

In December last year, Belarusian Ambassador Dmitry Krutoy met with Arkhangelsk Governor Aleksandr Tsybulsky to discuss shipments from the Arkhangelsk Seaport.

“Belarusian companies are interested in the shipment of goods through the Arkhangelsk Sea Trade Port in order to re-orient its connections away from Western Europe to Russia,” Tsybulsky said in a comment on Telegram after the talks.

The two men met again this week.

Planned exports includes fertilisers

There has been close contacts also between Minsk and the Government of Murmansk. In September 2022, Governor Andrei Chibis paid a visit to Minsk where he discussed trade issues with Lukashenko. In June 2023, Belarus Premier Roman Golovchenko followed up with a visit to Murmansk.

Among the Belarusian commodities planned exported from Murmansk and Arkhangelsk is fertilisers.

The integration of Belarus into the Russian Federation picked pace following 2020 when Lukashenko was assisted by Russian security services to crack down on massive anti-government demonstration following the fraudulent presidential elections.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Yukon’s new Arctic security council to help prepare territory for a changing world, CBC News

Denmark: Denmark promises increased focus on Arctic as it takes over NORDEFCO chair, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland invites American troops to bases in Lapland, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: British & Norwegian F-35s scrambled in North to intercept Russian military plane, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Will Russia revive infamous SMERSH counter-intelligence in Kola Peninsula?, The Independent Barents Observer

United Kingdom: UK urged to bolster Arctic defense as grey-zone threats rise: report, Eye on the Arctic

United States: First U.S. deep water port for the Arctic to host cruise ships, military, The Associated Press

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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