Expanded-format negotiations between presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus have begun in the Kremlin. Before that the two presidents had a narrow-format get-together, which lasted precisely three hours. Vladimir Putin said that they "discussed in detail actually the entire range of cooperation" between Russia and Belarus -- economic and military contacts, military-technical cooperation and the foreign policy. The Russian president said that the meeting with Alexander Lukashenko was so comprehensive that "hardly anything else can be added". At the time, Vladimir Putin said that the two governments will still have to face suchlike debates and "more detailed discussions" in the economic sphere. In turn, Alexander Lukashenko noted that an objective reason -- the recent presidential election in Belarus -- "has somewhat braked the development of bilateral relations". "This is why today we have had a scrupulous analysis of our relations and come to concrete agreements", stressed the Belarussian president. He said that "as never before we have put to a detailed analysis the economic, political and military-technical spheres of our cooperation. In all questions we have taken a decision or come to an agreement". After the introductory utterances of the two presidents Vladimir Putin passed the word to Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. The meeting continued without the press. On the Russian side, it is attended by Alexander Voloshin, chief of the presidential administration, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Vice-Premier Victor Khristenko, deputy chief of the presidential administration Sergei Prikhodko, Mikhail Vanin, chairman of the State Customs Committee.
On December 14, President Putin holds his annual Q&A session with Russian and foreign journalists. This conference is considered to be the beginning of his presidential campaign