"Gazprom" involved in gas conflict between Russia and Belarus. Why Belarus doesn't recognize $ 200m debt to Russia

"Gazprom" involved in gas conflict between Russia and Belarus. Why Belarus doesn't recognize $ 200m debt to RussiaActually, there are no disagreements between Russia and Belarus. They're simply calculating in two different manners - they feel differently about the gas issue and…they like different figures. The Belarusian government believes that they should pay to Russia 73 dollars per thousand cubic meters of gas, while Russia is convinced that the 132 dollars is the right price for the same thing. Thus, Russia calls on Belarus to pay the debt for gas supplies. According to Russia’s estimates, the debt amounts to $ 200 million since the beginning of the year. Belarus insists that there are no gas debts to be paid at all.

It is almost comical: the gas tube is working properly, the gas is arriving to Belarus in the right quantities, the Belarusians transfer money to Russian suppliers on the basis of the price which they themselves considered to be acceptable while suppliers simply put the debt on the paper: Yeah, that's yet another million dollars owed to Russia by Belarus. And everything remains the same.

However, in May "Gazprom Transgaz Belarus" (the "daughter" of "Gazprom") applied to the International Arbitration Court at the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce with a suit against the Belarusian gas suppliers "due to the presence of debt from the gas supplying organizations to pay for the delivered natural gas". But, as it was noted by Russian Ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov, in the meantime, the contract will end, and no one will talk about the matter.

The negotiations on the reduction of gas prices for Belarus began at the end of the last year. And up until last week they were going at different levels: the Vice-Minister of Energy, energy ministers, deputy prime ministers, prime ministers. But finally Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin met on the 8th of June in Minsk. Although officially it was believed that they are not negotiating about the gas price, and are going to discuss Russia’s and Belorusia’s participation in the Forum of Regions, it was clear that the burning issue of gas would be brought up all the same. And so it was: thanks to the fact that the microphone was turned off for a few seconds later than the protocol speeches - broadcasted for the press - ended, the accredited journalists managed to hear more than it had been foreseen. Since Vladimir Putin was met not by Lukashenko but by the Belarusian Head of Government Andrei Kobyakov, it was he who was destined to start an unpleasant conversation in the limo. He hurried to report to Lukashenko: "Well, I have talked with Putin on this subject a little bit. There are some economic and legal aspects of this issue."

There are actually also political aspects, which were mentioned by Kobyakov at the microphone, accidentally still functioning, - political and military ones. Most likely, if Belarus had agreed to the presence of Russian military bases on its territory – the negotiations on this subject have been in course since last year – than the discounts on gas would surely have been received. But because they do not agree - Russia, in its turn, does not want to reduce the prices for the ally. It is a kind of a foxy game of "who will be a bigger trickster".

"Gazprom" involved in gas conflict between Russia and Belarus. Why Belarus doesn't recognize $ 200m debt to RussiaAfter Minsk meeting, by the way, the spokesman for the Russian President, Dmitry Peskov, told the reporters that Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin instructed the Ministers of Energy to resolve the issue of gas pricing on their own, without involving the senior officials: "The Belarussians, of course, believe that they must receive a lower rate. We believe that this is not the right discount. This is a purely commercial dispute. There is no need to exaggerate the importance of this dispute." The Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that Belarus is obliged to pay an existing debt, and then it will be possible to continue the negotiations.

Gas price for Belarus is reviewed each year, and is formed on the basis of the intergovernmental Agreement signed in 2011. The pricing formula is simple: the gas price for the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District (36 dollars) plus delivery charges to the Belarus border ($ 90) and storage price in Russian gas storage facilities ($ 6). Belarus insists on equal profitability pricing due to the fall in prices for gas in Europe, that is according to the formula "the price of gas on the German market minus the cost of transportation by the Polish ($ 9) and the Belarussian ($ 12) sections of "Yamal-Europe" gas pipeline and the export duty of 30 per cent. " In this formula they do not take into account the transportation costs through the territory of the Euro-Asian Union, and thus, the final price is 73 dollars.

Of course, this is profitable for Belarus. And the transition to the principle of equal pricing is really planned as part of a single gas market of Euro-Asian Union planned for the year 2025. And as one can understand, a lot can change in nine years which separate the current moment and the future point 2025." So, the very "Yamalo-Nenets" formula is operating now, the same which is recorded in the intergovernmental Agreement.

In this yet another gas dispute Russia and Belarus - "both are to be blamed." Russia - because the gas and oil prices have fallen considerably in the global market. (From the latest news tagged with the word "Gazprom" on June 10: "Gazprom" has begun to sell gas to Europe at 20 per cent below the market price, the experts estimate this as the biggest discount in eight years.

And in terms of the Allies’ concessions during the economic crisis Russia might have made a little concession. And Belarus is also to be blamed because you can claim anything. But as long as there is no new Agreement, the old acts. So Belarus ignores the legitimate contract, considering the situation as is better for her position and paying at random: maybe, it will work somehow and Russia will have no choice.

The funny thing is that it is for twenty years Belarus has been successfully playing the role of the trickster.
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