President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko in a conversation with prime minister Syarhey Rumas said that it is necessary to reduce the price of natural gas supplied from Russia, repots the news agency BelTA.
Lukashenko noted that Russia sells gas to Germany much cheaper than Belarus.
"Yesterday I received information that at this difficult time Russia sells natural gas in Europe for up to $70: $65-68, but not for $127, as for Belarus. What are the circumstances and the situation here, what can we expect in the future? I brought up this issue at a video conference within the EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union), and in the near future we will have a conference in the same format. I would like to know what steps have been taken so far to reduce the price of natural gas for Belarus," the president said.
"This is not the case, I am not even talking about the year of the 75th anniversary (end of the Second World War) that Germany gets the natural gas for up to $70, as I have information, but not for $127, as for Belarus," Lukashenko added.
Earlier this year, Minsk and Moscow failed to agree on the supply of gas and oil in the new year, which led to the suspension of Belarusian oil products exports.
At the end of December 2019, Russia and Belarus were unable to reach an agreement on the terms for oil transit. Moscow has stopped deliveries as of January 1, and Minsk temporarily suspended its oil products exports, although this was resumed by mid-January. Lukashenko said that if Russia makes its oil too expensive, Belarus will be forced to look for alternative supplies, including the reverse transit of Saudi or US oil through Poland.
In mid-January, Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Krutoy said that Minsk considers it inexpedient to continue overpaying Russian companies for oil and is looking for suppliers in other countries. It was later learned that Belarus had bought 80,000 tons of oil from Norway, and that Lukashenko had instructed the government to sign a supply contract with Kazakhstan.
In mid-December, Belarusian Finance Ministry Maksim Yermolovich signed an agreement to take an urgent 3.5 billion yuan loan (around $500 million) from the Shanghai branch of the China Development Bank. Previously it was reported that Belarus had requested such a loan from Russia but had failed to reach an agreement.