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Moscow To Lend Minsk As Much As An Extra $2 Billion Next Year

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (right) with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council summit in Minsk earlier this year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow could lend Belarus an additional $2 billion in 2014.

Speaking at a meeting of the State Council of Russia and Belarus in Moscow on December 25, Putin said said that "the Russian government has decided ... to issue the Republic of Belarus with additional loan funds of up to $2 billion."

Meanwhile, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that the loan will not come from Russia's National Welfare Fund, which, in theory, is designed to back Russia's state pensions.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the State Council, Siluanov said the funds would be transferred in the form of an intergovernmental loan with maturity of up to 10 years.

Last week, Russia announced a $15 billion bailout for Ukraine -- with funds coming from the National Welfare Fund.

Under the deal, Kyiv will get the money from Moscow in exchange for Ukrainian government-issued bonds. Ukraine needs $10 billion to keep its economy afloat.

Ukraine received a first $3-billion instalment of this money on December 24. The following day, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said that Kyiv will receive the remaining $12 billion early next year.

Russia has offered the bailout deal as well as a one-third reduction in the price of gas it delivers in a move seen as an attempt to keep Ukraine in its sphere of influence and woo it away from the European Union.

Azarov also said on December 25 that that the Ukraine's economy, which grew 0.2 percent in 2012, would remain stagnant this year

Based on reporting by Interfax, ntv, AFP, and AP