Belarus wants Moscow to give it the same price for Russian gas as Russian regions pay, Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov said in an interview to Reuters.
The country has also been trying to secure oil supplies from other sources and has received test shipments from Azerbaijan, the official added.
“If in the regions which border Belarus the gas price is more than two times cheaper it is obvious that the competitiveness of the goods which Belarus is producing will be quite a bit worse than in Russia. So we are saying: ‘We don’t mind if you raise prices to levels matching Belarus … But if you can’t raise prices at home, then adjust the price for Belarus to yours”, Reuters quoted Belarusian PM.
The Belarusian side believes that the conditions should be comparable or even equal – only in that case the four freedoms of the economic union will really be working.
Earlier, Minsk and Moscow have stated that they had agreed to settle the oil and gas dispute. However, Moscow has not yet restored the volume of oil supply, while Minsk failed to re-pay its gas debt. Last week, the Belarusian government reported that it had transferred an advance payment for gas to Russia. However, on Saturday Moscow said that it had returned the advance payment and was waiting for the full repayment of the debt.
“In October we thought that almost all the issues are settled. Then our partners changed their position”, Andrei Kobyakov noted.
The gas dispute was also the reason for the reduction of Russian oil supplies to Belarus. It cost the country 0.3% of GDP.
In autumn Belarus has received test shipments from Azerbaijan. Kobyakov said that oil from Azerbaijan, which arrived by sea via the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa and was delivered by land to Belarus, was one of the most “thought through” options but not the only one, Reuters writes.
On 19 December the Ambassador of Russia to Belarus Alexander Surikov announced that the oil and gas dispute between the two countries would be resolved until 20 December. According to him, the talks are underway. The official is holding a oress-conference in Minsk on Tuesday.
Photo credit: TUT.BY, BelTA.