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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Moves To Ease Rift With Belarus

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin moved to heal a diplomatic rift with Belarus on Monday by calling on his Cabinet not to say anything that might upset Minsk.

Russian officials "need to be accurate in their statements," Putin said at a Cabinet meeting. "To offend someone is not the best option."

"We and Belarus, whatever happens, are part of one family. There may be tiffs and scandals, but all the same, life goes on," Putin said.

Ties have been strained since 2007, when Russia raised the price of its gas, and the dispute intensified when Moscow banned one of Belarus' key exports, dairy products, on health grounds this month.

The spat came to a head Sunday when Lukashenko snubbed the Kremlin by pulling out of a security summit. President Dmitry Medvedev then called for an end to Belarus' "hysterics."

The Foreign Ministry on Monday described Lukashenko's decision to boycott the summit as "irrational" but went on to describe Belarus as "a reliable partner and ally."

Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik told Putin at the meeting that Belarus had made the positive step of agreeing to stop exports of milk powder to Russia for six months. Talks between Russian and Belarussian officials were continuing in Moscow on the milk ban.