March 9 – March 15, 2020
Belarus-Russia relations

The Prime Ministers’ meeting did not lead to an oil agreement; Belarus has presented plans to develop the EEU

The situation got worse
The Prime Ministers’ meeting did not lead to an oil agreement; Belarus has presented plans to develop the EEU

By Valeria Kostyugova

At the meeting of Prime Ministers Rumas and Mishustin on March 11th, 2020 in Moscow, the parties did not agree on oil supplies. Russian position remained unchanged, that the state would not interfere in Belarus’ relations with oil companies. The nullification of Putin’s rule has put an end to the hopes of some supporters of the alliance with Russia in Belarus that Russia would resume her anti-capitalist approach.

Before the meeting with his Russian counterpart, Rumas, the head of the Belarusian government, contemplated that a collapse in oil prices would bring the parties closer and presented new proposals for oil supplies to Russian Prime Minister Mishustin. According to Rumas, “at first glance, these proposals were not rejected by the Russian side.”

Russia does not share his views. Quite the opposite, the history of relations shows, that Belarus usually has a better understanding of these issues with Russian companies during periods of steadily high oil prices (rather than during rapid growth or decline in oil prices). Commenting on the meeting, the Russian Ambassador emphasized that it was necessary to improve economic cooperation based on market rules.

Besides, a drop in oil prices has inevitably reduced profits at Belarusian refineries due to a logical drop in fuel prices. Furthermore, the Belarusian ruble’s stability and economy’s efficiency, in principle, directly depends on the situation in Russia, and the revenues of producers of final products – on the Russian rouble’s stability. However, Rumas has urged not to worry about this.

Simultaneously, a drop in oil prices on the world market has created favorable conditions for Belarus’ efforts to diversify her oil supplies. Last week, oil tankers arrived at the ports of Odessa and Klaipeda, Belarus allegedly was negotiating oil supplies with Saudi Arabia, and Foreign Minister Makei spoke with Pompeo over the phone.

All in all, last week, Belarus moved forward in diversifying her oil supplies as the oligarchic capitalism cemented in Russia due to the extension of Putin’s rule indefinitely.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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