President Vladimir Putin (file photo) (ITAR-TASS)
January 15, 2007 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country will continue to support Belarus's economy, but at a "significantly reduced" level.
Putin hailed an agreement signed last week ending an energy dispute with Minsk that led to the interruption of Russian oil deliveries to Europe via Belarus.
"I would like to point out that the main result of these negotiations is the transition to market relations with our Belarusian partners, first of all, in the energy sector," Putin said.
Putin's comments followed remarks by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on January 14 accusing Moscow of seeking to take over Belarus.
Lukashenka was referring to a plan to create a union state with Russia, Belarus's long-standing ally.