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SOCHI, February 27. /TASS/. Disagreements regarding the gas issue persist between Russia and Belarus, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said on the sidelines of the Russian Investment Forum in Sochi on Monday.
"Disagreements persist," he said when asked whether the authorities of the two countries had studied the draft protocol on the oil and gas issue.
According to Dvorkovich, the talks are underway now. "Belarus should have repaid its gas debt long ago instead of accumulating it," he added.
Belarus and Russia have been negotiating a reduction in gas prices since early 2016. Minsk insisted on lowering the price of Russian natural gas from $132 to $73 per 1,000 cubic meters and demanded that Russia switch to equal netback pricing. In response to underpayment of around $300 mln for Russian gas supplies Moscow cut its tax-free oil supplies to Belarus by more than a third.
In end-2016, Belarus transferred an advance payment for Russian gas and expressed the hope that the volume of oil supplies would be restored. However, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said that Russia had returned the advance payment and insisted on full execution of the gas contract. At the same time, Dvorkovich did not rule out that the settlement of the gas dispute with Belarus could be resolved in court.