The rift between Russia and Belarus has deepened over an alleged trade war.
Belarus is angry at rising gas prices. Moscow is unhappy at Belarus’s growing overtures to the West. Now Belarus has snubbed a security summit in Moscow which was attended by Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan and Tajikistan. Referring to Belarus staying away, Russian President Medvedev moved to defuse the rift saying: “ I hope hysteria will not spoil the efforts to create the collective rapid reaction force for us and Belarus.” The summit went ahead with all but one of the former Soviet republics signing a security deal. Belarus’s President Lukashenko was defiant saying he would not bend to pressure from Russia. He said: “Why do we need diplomatic relations with the country that is putting pressure on us. We don’t need it.” Belarus has long been accused by the West of repressing dissent, muzzling the media and rigging elections. In response it has tried to improve relations with the West. Ties between Moscow and the former Soviet Republic has been strained since 2007.