The Russia-Belarus dispute over gas and oil issues distort the Eurasian integration, Belarusian Prime Minister Andrey Kabyakou said at Tuesday’s meeting of the EUEA Intergovernmental Council in Bishkek.
In response, his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev compared these statements with blackmail.
“If some of the countries participating in the Eurasian Economic Union had not joined it, they would have to buy gas at European [higher]prices,” he stressed.
Medvedev urged his colleagues to remember this when making decisions that block or impede integration.
“No one forcibly keeps anyone here [in the EEU], we did all this voluntarily,” he said.
Moreover, when making a comment on Belarus’s Prime Minister’s claim, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that Russia ‘has a very consistent position’ in the conflict. „we are trying to bring it to our Belarusian colleagues at the working level quite consistently,” Peskov stressed .
Vladimir Putin traditionally takes the EAEU development ‘as one of the main priorities’, he added.
The oil and gas conflict between Russia and Belarus has been running on over a year. Two capitals failed to come to terms over payments for Russian gas delivered in 2016. Minsk was indignant at the fact that Russian consumers bought gas at subsidized prices. Belarus is seeking the same subsidies for domestic enterprises so that they could compete on the Russian market.
The conflict erupted as Belarus started to pay $73 per thousand cubic meters while the contract price for the Russian gas was $132.
In October, Belarus was late in paying the debt for gas. The government was to transfer to “Gazprom” $281 million. Later, it became known that Minsk had not transferred money for Russian gas, as it expected signing of ‘some’ agreements.
Against the backdrop of the gas dispute and a default on deliveries of petroleum products, Russia reduced the supply of oil to Belarusian refineries by 5.25 mln tons, which crushed the export of Belarusian oil products. In response to the Russia’s measures, from October 11, Belarus wanted to raise tariffs for the transit of Russian oil through Belarusian territory by 50%. Later this resolution was canceled in exchange for the restoration of the full volume of oil supplies from Russia.
The ‘gas war’ has already cost Belarus 0.3% of GDP. In late February, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said Belarus’ debt for Russian gas supplies reached $600 mln.