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Russian PM warns against leading Belarus gas issue into deadlock

No decisions have been made on the issue despite numerous consultations of ministers and deputy prime ministers

GORKI, July 12. /TASS/. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has proposed for consideration the issues related to oil and gas supplies to his Belarusian counterpart Andrey Kobyakov.

"Apart from current issues we have one more important problem related to the situation in the energy sector, gas and oil supplies. We’ve had consultations regarding this issue while our ministers and deputy prime ministers have been discussing it. They’re still in cooperation though no decisions have been made," Medvedev said.

"Those are the issues that should not be allowed to fall into neglect as we know from our experience of previous years, as it’s very difficult to find solutions afterwards, even taking into account the highest level of cooperation and partnership. There are areas where it is crucial to reach agreements without creating long-term worries and leading the situation into deadlock," Medvedev added.

According to Kobyakov, Minsk is focused on finding a solution regarding the issue of oil and gas supplies between Moscow and Minsk. "We’re ready to discuss all issues, and are of course ready to discuss such uneasy and sensitive issues in our trade and economic relations that we sometimes have," he said.

The sensitive issue in question concerns the talks on the price for Russian gas supplies to Belarus, however there have been no progress in the talks yet. The current gas price for Minsk stands at $132 per 1,000 cubic meters, though the country’s Energy Ministry considers $73 per 1,000 cubic meters as a fair price for the gas it receives. Also, Belarus’ debt for Russian gas exceeds $200 bln, according to Gazprom Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev.

The reduction of oil supplies to Belarus from Russia in the third quarter of this year is also tied with the gas issue.

In early May Gazprom Transgaz Belarus filed a lawsuit to the International Arbitration Court at the BelCCI (Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) against the country’s gas providers over their debts on natural gas supplies. Belarusian Energy Minister Vladimir Potupchik said earlier the country had no debt to Gazprom for the natural gas supplied to the country as payments are in line with the intergovernmental agreement, which the sides read differently.