Russia lends US$ 2 billion to Belarus

Russia is to lend Belarus US$ 2 billion to help it ride out its current economic difficulties. The first billion will be transferred by the end of the year with the rest to follow at the beginning of 2009.

The two countries are looking at a joint-plan to tackle the current financial turmoil and are continuing talks over the creation of a common currency. Russia and Belarus have already agreed to switch to roubles when trading oil and gas. This will be one of the key points of the joint-plan due to be approved by early February 2009, said Andrey Kharkovets, Belarusian Finance Minister.

At the end of 2007 Russia lent Belarus US$1.5 billion.