Despite appeals for a speedy resolution there are no signs of an immediate end to the pipeline dispute which is troubling the EU. Both Belarus and Russia have blamed each other for causing the row over crude prices and transit tariffs. Moscow accuses Minsk of forcing the closure by stealing oil from the Druzhba pipeline. It carries a third of Russia’s 5 million barrels per day exports, crossing Belarus to bring oil to Western Europe. Germany, Poland Slovakia and Hungary have said they have access to enough reserves to cope. But the interruption in supplies is worrying.
Hopes of a quick resolution faded after meetings in Moscow failed to reach a positive conclusion. President Vladimir Putin has ordered his government to consult with oil firms on winding down Russian production in a bid to put more pressure on Belarus. It imposed higher transit fees on Russia in response to a hike in oil Russian prices. Russia’s energy minister has now said his country would seek to build up alternative routes in the mid- to long-term to bypass Belarus.