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November 20 – November 26, 2017
Belarus-Russia relations

Minsk and Moscow have agreed on the gas issue and avoided confrontation over Belarus’ participation in the Eastern Partnership

The situation has gotten better
Minsk and Moscow have agreed on the gas issue and avoided confrontation over Belarus’ participation in the Eastern Partnership

Belarus and Russia have removed tension over the gas issue, having agreed that gas issues would be resolved bilaterally on special terms, regardless of the regulatory powers of the EEU in the gas field. In addition, Belarus managed to relieve Russia’s anxiety over her European policy.

Belarus and Russia have signed amendments to the agreement on gas regulations. The document strictly stipulates the volumes and prices of gas supplies in 2018 and 2019 only. An addendum, outlining principles of future cooperation has been introduced so that the parties could develop approaches to the formation of common gas market in 2018 (previous deadline January 1st, 2018) or later. In addition, it has confirmed the special nature of gas relations between the two states, regardless of how soon the EEU gas market would be established, if at all. The specific terms of cooperation, that is, prices and volumes, would depend on a variety of factors, including the prospects of the Northern Stream-2, relations between Russia and Ukraine, Russia’s position on the European market, and so on.

The final declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit, as Foreign Minister Makei promised to his Russian counterpart Lavrov, has not mentioned Russia. Neither was Russia mentioned in the drafts; in fact, only Ukraine attempted to promote the condemnation of Russia during the Summit. That said, not only Russia’s allies, Belarus and Armenia, opposed such attempts, most participants were solidary in constructivist, rather than confrontational intentions, excluding partners of Belarusian centre-rightists, the European People’s Party, who adopted a statement in support for Ukraine.

Clearly, the forces interested in deepening the confrontation in all three states (Ukraine, Russia and Belarus) are likely to find in Belarus’ behaviour in the EaP the signs of Belarus siding with only one party to the conflict. However, all-in-all, so far, Belarus is able to remain neutral in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.

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