OFFICIAL UNION COMING: Suggestions that Belarus and Russia have single currency deepen

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MOSCOW – This Sunday, the president of the Russian upper house, Valentina Matviyenko, suggested deepening the union between Belarus and Russia.

According to her, the deepening of relations between the two countries needs the implementation of a single currency in the near future.

“This should be a full-fledged union with [the two] economies developing at the same pace, otherwise integration would be difficult. This union will need to have a single currency at some point because there can be no [unified] financial policy with separate currencies,” she told parliament.

Belarus and Russia have had a cooperation treaty since 2000.

Valentina Matviyenko is a senator from St. Petersburg. Member of the United Russia party, she is considered one of the most influential women in politics in the country. Matviyenko was Deputy Prime Minister of Russia between 1998 and 2003 and currently chairs the Federation Council, the Russian Senate.

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Both Belarus and Russia feel pressures from the West, particularly from NATO. In April, Belarusian Defense Minister Andrei Ravkov said NATO was storing heavy weapons in the Baltic countries, an action that could be classified as an effort to change the balance of power in the region.

According to the Belarussian minister, such measures will only exacerbate international tensions.

“I have the right to emphasize it, because I have seen these developments with my own eyes,” said Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, speaking on the occasion of a speech to the European Union forum – “Eastern Europe: in search of security for all.”

According to Lukashenko, the influence of non-European regions and countries, such as China, India and Japan, is strengthening, creating the need to engage them in a dialogue with regional actors in Europe.

NATO has significantly increased its presence in Eastern Europe since the start of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, using Russia’s alleged interference in Ukrainian domestic affairs as a pretext. Moscow denied all charges.

The Kremlin has repeatedly voiced its protest over NATO’s military advance, saying that this will only undermine regional stability and result in a new arms race.

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