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When speaking on gas agreements, Lukashenko mistook wish for reality

The current oil and gas conflict between Russia and Belarus concerns not so much the energy sector as the economic and political relations between the two countries. So, it will hardly be settled soon. Despite Alexander Lukashenko’s statements, the Kremlin will hardly do his bidding. Talking to EADaily, several experts expressed hope that the sides will come to terms in the long run.

“This is a big problem. So, it will hardly be solved soon. Here much depends on economic integration processes and political aspects. Energy is just an element of a complex of economic and political relations, where the current gas conflict is an even smaller element. This is like some nest-doll: first we have general economic and political relations, then energy and only then gas,” senior expert at the National Energy Security Fund Stanislav Mitrakhovich said.

According to him, when making his last statement on gas Lukashenko mistook the wish for the reality.

“The talks are still underway. A few weeks ago, Kommersant newspaper made public the preliminary price but later it turned out that Russia has not accepted it yet. For the hundredth time Lukashenko tried to scare Russia with turnabouts towards the West and alternative gas imports from Iran. But then he realized that he could not do it on a constant basis and decided to say that the compromise was possible. Well, as later Dmitry Medvedev’s statements show it has not been settled finally yet. Lukashenko claimed too much: a big discount, loans and no political claims on Russia’s part,” Mitrakhovich said.

According to the expert, Lukashenko will get the discount but it will be smaller than 50%. “Now the price is $130 per barrel. Lukashenko wants to pay $70 but may get some $110. Today Russia cannot afford quarrelling with all players around and is forced to make concessions but this does not mean that one can keep pressuring it and claim more and more,” Mitrakhovich said.

According to senior analyst at Alpari Anna Kokoreva, Belarus is very unstable here. “Lukashenko says that the sides have come to terms but we shouldn’t believe him until we get the Russian side’s confirmation,” Kokoreva said.

According to the expert, $70-80 per 1,000 c m is a very low price. “Minsk can claim it only if it has something very interesting to offer in exchange,” she said.

“There is no such price. If they want it, they must offer something in exchange. Consequently, if Russia satisfies Lukashenko’s claim, it will mean that there is something behind it,” Kokoreva said.

According to senior expert at Finam Management Dmitry Baranov, the current contradictions between Russia and Belarus come from their economic problems but they have no other way but to come to terms.

“Each side is trying to protect its interests, so, it is not strange that the talks are faltering. But we have too many common grounds and we have no other way but to come to terms. Perhaps we can do without each other but if we stop our cooperation, we will both suffer. So, compromise is our only solution,” Baranov said.

As EADaily reported earlier, on Oct 10 Lukashenko said that the gas dispute between Russia and Belarus had been settled. His Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said that the Kremlin was ready to reduce the price, with Belarus promising to repay its debt. But later Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his deputy Arkady Dvorkovich said that there would be no gas discounts for Belarus.

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