Belarus and Russia hit gas impasse

Belarus hints it will stop gas deliveries from Russia through its pipelines to western Europe.

    Moscow wants to increase the profits it can
    extract from its neighbours [AFP]


    But it risks a new wave of Western concern over its reliability as the key energy supplier to Europe, just one year after a similar dispute with Ukraine caused brief disruptions to Russian gas deliveries to several European countries.

    Vladimir Semashko, the Belarusian first deputy prime minister, shrugged off the threat and hinted that Belarus could halt supplies of Gazprom gas that is pumped through Belarus to nations including Germany, Poland and Lithuania.

     

    Sergei Kupriyanov, the Gazprom spokesman, said the company, which initially said Belarus must pay $200 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas next year but is now asking for $105, is not prepared to go lower.

     

    Political motivation

     

    In addition to raising the price, Russia wants Belarus to cede Gazprom a 50 per cent stake in its gas distribution system, Beltransgaz.

     

    The politically charged dispute reflects seriously strained relations between Belarus and Russia, which have the closest ties of any two ex-Soviet republics and signed a treaty in the mid 1990s to create a close union.

     

    Russia has supported Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, in the face of severe Western criticism, but relations have been tense under Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, who angered Lukashenko a few years ago by suggesting an integration scenario under which Belarus would become little more than a Russian province.

     

    Under Gazprom's offer of a price of $105 in 2007, Belarus would pay $75 per 1,000 cubic metres in cash and $30 in shares of the country's gas distribution system, Beltransgaz.

     

    The price would increase annually at the same rate as prices for Russian industrial consumers, reaching a market-style European price in 2010.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?