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No quick agreement in Russia/Belarus energy talks


No quick agreement in Russia/Belarus energy talks


Russia and Belarus have failed to reach a quick deal over gas payments. The Belarus gas-bill currently stands at 365-million euros, and the Prime Ministers of both countries met in Moscow to try to come to an agreement. Russia’s Mikhail Fradkov called it a productive meeting, but said the issues could not be solved overnight. The Belarussian PM, Sergei Sidorsky was trying to secure just over a billion euros in a stabilisation loan, to cover the gas debt after missing the payment deadline last week. Belarus is an important transit state for pipeline supplies of Russian energy to Europe. But it is also heavily dependent on its neighbour for its own energy, importing huge amounts of gas, oil and electricity.

The Russian giant gas monopoly Gazprom doubled the price at the start of this year. Belarus now has to pay 73-euros for a thousand cubic metres of Russian gas, compared to of 33-and-a-half before. Nevertheless, Gazprom sell to the rest of Europe at more than 180-euros for the same volume. Economists believe Belarus has enough money to pay the debt, but parting with the money all in one go would strain its current account deficit.

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