MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin stated Tuesday {that a} $1.5 billion mortgage it provided to Belarus carried no political circumstances, regardless of claims by the Belarusian opposition that Russia is attempting to shore up the nation’s authoritarian ruler amid post-election protests.

Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced the mortgage when he hosted his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko for greater than 4 hours of talks Monday in Sochi on Russia’s Black Coastline.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated the mortgage wasn’t contingent on any political strikes. “Like all mortgage, it has business circumstances however there was no speak about some other circumstances,” he instructed reporters throughout a convention name Tuesday.

Protesters in Belarus have dismissed Lukashenko’s re-election for a sixth time period within the Aug. 9 presidential vote as rigged, and large demonstrations have entered their sixth week. The USA and the European Union have each criticized the election as neither free nor honest and urged the Belarusian chief to interact in talks with the opposition, a requirement he has rejected.

The Western stress has left Lukashenko to rely solely on help from Russia, which has a union settlement with Belarus envisaging shut political, financial and army ties. Putin shortly congratulated Lukashenko on his re-election and promised to ship Russian police to Belarus if protests there flip violent.

Peskov stated after Monday’s talks that Russia would now pull again from the border a regulation enforcement contingent put aside for potential deployment to Belarus.

Regardless of the shut cooperation, the 2 neighbors usually engaged in acrimonious disputes prior to now, with Lukashenko denouncing what he described as Kremlin stress on Belarus to desert its independence.

In a shift of rhetoric, Lukashenko on Monday showered Putin with reward for serving to Belarus and emphasizing the necessity to counter what he described as hostile plans by NATO. He provided to accentuate joint army drills, noting that “the latest developments have proven that we have to stand nearer to our older brother.”

Putin emphasised that Russian paratroopers despatched to Belarus for joint drills will depart the nation after the train. Peskov stated the leaders didn’t focus on the potential for basing Russian troops in Belarus.

The Coordination Council that the Belarusian opposition created after the vote to push for a brand new election criticized Russia for backing Lukashenko.

“Help for the actions of Belarus’ regulation enforcement businesses, for the coverage of repression as an alternative of dialogue, will undoubtedly have a severe destructive impression on bilateral relations,” it stated in an announcement.

Pavel Latushko, a former tradition minister and ambassador to France who was pressured to depart Belarus after becoming a member of the Coordination Council, stated the Kremlin is making a mistake by attempting to shore up Lukashenko.

“It is a flawed technique to supply a monetary lifeline to the outgoing authorities that will probably be wasted,” Latushko instructed The Related Press in a telephone interview from Poland. “Russia gives funds to Lukashenko, however it might’t put cash in each Belarusian’s pocket. The financial scenario will deteriorate and the general public discontent will solely develop.”

Latushko charged that regardless of backing Lukashenko for now, the Kremlin could have already got began a seek for his alternative.

“Russia is implementing a technique to downgrade the outgoing president to assist form broad public consensus for changing Lukashenko within the close to future,” he stated.

Most observers famous that Russia would stand by Lukashenko till it may discover a viable various.

“If Belarusian officers and the broad public really feel that Russia dropped its assist for Lukashenko, it might shortly end his regime,” stated Artem Shraibman, an unbiased Minsk-based analyst. “The Kremlin does not need him to fall till it has different dependable companions within the Belarusian elite or the opposition.”

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Karmanau reported from Kyiv, Ukraine.

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Comply with all AP tales concerning the turmoil in Belarus at https://apnews.com/Belarus.