Belarus is relying on support from Russia and Kazakhstan, with which it is building a customs union, to overcome the consequences of U.S. sanctions, Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich said on Monday.
"Russia has always supported the republic of Belarus," he said at a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State of Russia and Belarus. "A united position will make our integration associations even firmer and more reliable. A friend in need is a friend indeed."
The U.S. and the EU imposed sanctions against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, as well as against other officials and companies over a crackdown on the opposition. On August 11, the U.S. imposed additional sanctions against four major Belarusian state-owned enterprises.
Lukashenko on August 11 granted pardons to nine out of several dozen people convicted of taking part in mass anti-government protests last December, but the list of pardoned protesters does not include six former presidential candidates. They will continue serving jail terms ranging from two to 5.5 years.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told journalists on Monday after the Union State's Council of Ministers meeting that Russia will not react to U.S. sanctions against Belarusian companies, but pledged support in the integration processes.
"I do not think it is expedient for Russia to react to other countries' actions. But all we do as part of integration processes will in this or that way support the Belarusian economy," Putin said.