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2020.01.15 16:49

Belarus seeks oil via Baltic states as stand-off with Moscow continues

RFE/RL, LRT.lt2020.01.15 16:49

Belarus has asked the Baltic states and several other countries to sell it oil following a tariff dispute with Russia, its regular supplier.

"All commercial departments of our plants, of the Belarusian Oil Company, have been holding talks practically on a daily basis. I think we will get alternative sources for oil supplies soon. It is about all possibilities – Ukraine, Poland, the Baltic states, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, wherever. We are working on it now," Deputy Prime Minister Dzmitry Krutoy said on January 14.

Krutoy's statement comes less than two weeks after Moscow abruptly halted oil shipments to Belarus.

Lithuanian Railways and the Klaipėda port have previously said they are keeping constant contacts with Belarus on the possibility to transport oil via Klaipėda. Lithuanian foreign minister has also previously offered Belarusians imports via Klaipėda.

Read more: Lithuanian port 'ready' to assist Belarus in Minsk-Moscow oil row

Belarus has been at odds with Russia over oil-transit prices for some time against a backdrop of increasing pressure by Moscow on Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to deepen integration between the two neighbours.

A two-month deal on natural-gas prices hours before a December 31 deadline helped avoid a gas shutoff.

Belarus is heavily reliant on Russia for fuel and funding and is a key transit route for Russian energy supplies to Europe.

Moscow and Minsk signed an agreement in 1999 to form a unified state, but little progress has been made in the ensuing two decades.

Meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lukashenko last year failed to bring the two sides together as the Belarusian president noted he was merely seeking "equal" terms.

Belarusians protested in late 2019 against closer ties with Russia and against the secretive nature of the talks.