President of Belarus apologizes to Putin for the 'stormy' dispute over gas prices

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko commented on the public discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the gas prices which took place on Thursday, December 6, at the summit of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in St. Petersburg. Speaking on the Russia TV channel, the President of Belarus admitted that he had to apologize to Putin.

"I spoke in a bad tone, so I had to apologize to the host of today's meeting. The discussion was very heated. You'd better not listen to it," Lukashenko said and added that they discussed all the issues.

The discussion between the two predidents began in the presence of journalists. Lukashenko raised the question during his greeting speech. The Belarusian leader pointed to the need to continue eliminating the barriers and restrictions that impede the full-fledged formation of a unified EEU market. He noted that the price of gas is $130 per 1 thousand cubic meters for Belarusian consumers while it costs $70 for Russians in the neighboring Smolensk Oblast. "Almost twice lower. The question is how to compete in this situation," he asked.

Putin responded and said that if Belarus had a market price for gas, it would have been below $200 per 1,000 cubic meters, not $130. The Russian leader cited the example of Germany, reported the Belarusian agency BelTA. Putin described this as “a great advantage for our allies.” He agreed that the parties should strive for complete unification. However, Putin said, "this requires time and a different level of integration between our countries." “This is a subject of negotiations,” the Russian president said.

“You are right, Vladimir Vladimirovich. But our main partner, unfortunately or fortunately, is not Germany, but the Russian Federation. And our main partners, and not only partners but competitors too, are Russians, ” Lukashenko said in response.

Putin stopped the heated discussion and suggested continuing it after media representatives leave the hall. "Let us have a close discussion. You are absolutely right; we need to develop a plan to transition to a unified market. We agree with that. We will do that," BelTA quotes the Russian president as saying.

  Lukashenko, Putin, Belarus, Russia, EEU