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Russia resumes limited oil supplies to Belarus amid stalled talks

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Russia resumes limited oil supplies to Belarus amid stalled talks
Copyright  Sergei GAPON / AFP
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Russia and Belarus have reached an agreement for limited oil supplies following the decision from Moscow earlier this week to stop providing crude oil.

This happened as talks between the neighboring countries on strengthening economic ties have stalled.

Belarusian refineries have received the first batch of crude oil which is sufficient to ensure ``"non-stop operation of the country's refineries in January 2020'', the Belarusian state-run oil company Belneftekhim said on Saturday.

The Russian pipeline operator Transneft confirmed earlier on Saturday that it would transfer 133,000 tons of oil to Belarus.

The oil will come at a discounted price while negotiations for resuming regular imports continue, according to a Belneftekhim statement.

Russia stopped supplying oil to its post-Soviet neighbor after Dececember 31, when the two countries failed to renegotiate oil prices for this year.

Belarus relies on Russia for more than 80% of its overall energy needs.

The two Belarusian refineries have since then been operating at low capacity and running on reserves. On Friday, Minsk announced it was suspending its own oil exports, which contribute up to 20% of annual GDP.

The Kremlin has in recent months increased pressure on Belarusby raising energy prices and cutting subsidies.

Russia wants Belarus to accept greater economic integration if it hopes to continue receiving energy resources at Russia's domestic prices.

READ MORE: Belarus threatens not to sign integration deal with Russia if 'oil and gas issues' unresolved

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko held two rounds of talks in December but failed to reach an agreement on the closer ties and on oil and gas prices.

Putin said Russia was not ready to ``"subsidize'' energy supplies without more economic integration with Belarus. Lukashenko insisted he would not agree to the integration until the issues with oil and gas supplies were resolved.