Lukashenka and Putin: Time to dot the i’s

There are many problems in mutual relations, but it is time to dot the i’s: the talks of Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin are taking place in Sochi on Friday.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka expressed confidence that the sides would be able to settle the issues by the end of the year.

“They are not that complicated, though some are quite challenging from the financial standpoint, as they involve significant financial flows. Nevertheless, they should be addressed. A lot has been done to address issues in agriculture and in the oil and gas industry. I do not think we will encounter significant problems while tackling these issues,” state-run agency BelTA quotes him.

Indeed, a number of topical issues are being discussed at the meeting.

For example, in August, Reuters reported that Russia intended to cut supplies of duty free oil and gas to Belarus in Q4 2018 referring to ‘budget losses’. Its information about the suspension of loan disbursements and the possible blockade of oil supplies may be just a means of pressure on Minsk. In January-May 2018, Belarus has received 18 mln tons of Russian oil. According to Russian-Belarusian agreements, Minsk has the right to export 6 mln tons abroad. The conditions of oil trade are so favourable for Belarus that the raw material goes from Russia duty-free. And instead of the Federation’s budget, the Russian export duty goes to Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s cash office. In total, $2.5 bn, or even 5% ofBelarusian GDP. In practice, this is a kind of Moscow subsidizing and buying Belarusian authorities’ loyalty. But the authorities began to trespass. According to the Russian oilers, the Belarusian side re-export Russian oil (as well as liquid gas) to the West via the Baltic countries and Ukraine with the help of shady companies. Since the beginning of the year, the Belarusian re-export has tripled and according to the Russians, it has exceeded the agreed limits.