The head of Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom assured President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday that a contract with Belarus would be signed on time.
"As for the gas purchase contract, we plan to start negotiations with our Belarusian colleagues in September and sign the new contract by the end of this year," Alexei Miller said.
"Hydrocarbon market conditions are hard for consumers. Gas prices are high and it is tough for former USSR republics, including Belarus,” he added.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Mikhail Myasnikovich are scheduled to meet on Monday.
Miller assured Medvedev that there would be no repeat of the situation five years ago, when the deal was signed an hour before midnight on December 31.
"We do not want stories like the one which happened five years ago. We have to come to an agreement," Medvedev said.