Russia will increase duty-free oil supplies to Belarus on April 13 only if Minsk pays the balance on the delivered Russian gas, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said Wednesday.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after the negotiations with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko that the two leaders had agreed to settle all the existing disputes in the oil-and-gas sector. Later in the day, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that Russia would resume regular oil supplies to Belarus.
"In the event that we receive payment for gas over the period, then yes, they [deliveries] can start. Only in that case," Dvorkovich told reporters.
The most recent dispute escalated in 2016 after Minsk called Russian gas prices unfair and unilaterally reduced them. By the 2016 fall, Belarus owed $270-300 million for Russian gas. Minsk refused to acknowledge the debt, with Russia reducing its duty-free oil exports to Belarus saying it was due to inadequate gas payments and insufficient petroleum products’ shipments to Russia. Belarusian authorities had also increased rates on the transit of Russian oil via the country's territory.
In March, the Russian and Belarusian prime ministers discussed the dispute. However, according to Novak, Minsk refused to repay its $700-million debt without receiving substantial preferences.
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