Moscow To Start Gas Talks With Minsk Only After Integration Issue Resolved

Russia will start negotiations with Belarus on gas supplies only after the integration dialogue is completed. Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak made the statement on Monday, TASS reports.

Earlier Russia linked the allocation of its next loan to Belarus with integration processes between the two countries. So far we are negotiating the deepening of integration processes.

After we complete dialogue on the issue, it will become clear when and how our gas markets will be drawn together into a single gas market,” Kozak said.

The Russian Deputy Prime Minister described the task as complex and multi-faceted but expressed hope that a solution would be found in the near future.

Gas price

In 2019, the 2017 protocol on gas prices concluded by Moscow and Minsk expires.

According to the document, by the end of 2018, the parties had to work out a general formula on the gas price for Minsk equaling that valid for economic entities of Russia’s Smolensk Region.

In July, Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Vladimir Semashko said that the country had twice officially submitted its proposals on gas prices calculation methodologies – with no response.

Loans and integration

In April 2019, Moscow agreed on the allocation of a $600 million state loan to Minsk to refinance Belarus’s current foreign debt previously received from Russia.

The Minister of Finance Maxim Yermolovich said that Russia linked the allocation of a state loan to Belarus with integration processes but Belarus is prepared for the situation.

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“The Minister of Finance [of Russia] Siluanov has repeatedly stated that when we reach the general integration mechanism, we will talk the issue of crediting on a wider scale, not only within the framework of this loan [$630 million], but in general the payment schedule will be set up in favor of Russia,” Yermolovich said.

The Union State Treaty audit

Last December, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia was ready to keep building the Union State in accordance with the agreement on the creation of the Union State of 1999.

According to Medvedev, countries should have a single currency, a single court and customs. The treaty also envisaged further steps in integration, such as a single parliament and president.

On 25 December,  the presidents of Belarus and Russia agreed on the creation of a Russian-Belarusian working group to discuss various aspects of integration and controversial issues.

Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin will discuss proposals on the development of integration in the framework of the Union State developed by the working group on 18 July.