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Belarus will buy Russian oil at global prices - First Vice Premier Krutoi
Belarusian First Vice Prime Minister Dzmitry Krutoi said on Sunday that on 7 February Russia gave up to Belarus's demands and agreed to sell oil at global prices. "This is exactly what our president, Belarusian negotiators, demanded during numerous talks. Belarus does not need any special exclusive treatment. We want to purchase crude at global prices and not worse," Mr. Krutoi said as quoted by Belarusian state-run news agency BELTA.
Commenting on the halt of Russian oil supplies in January, he said the interruption in the negotiations had been caused by the New Year holidays break in Russia. "But now the intensity of contacts between our economic entities has increased," he noted.
Belarus seeks to buy oil from smaller players rather than from the bigshots like Lukoil, Rosneft, Tatneft, according to the official. The Vice-Premier also added that Vladimir Putin promised during his meeting with Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi on Friday to facilitate the talks with Russian oil suppliers.
According to Mr. Krutoi, Russia also promised to remove limitations for small Russian companies to supply oil via the pipeline. "The limitations for small oil suppliers were introduced for all export markets by President Putin's ad hoc edict. The measure does not apply to Belarus," Mr. Krutoi stressed, adding that "any company that finds it attractive to work with our refineries will soon get access to the pipeline, transit and oil supplies as a Transneft's agent" without limitations.
President Lukashenko reproached Russia on numerous occasions with suppling oil to Belarus at overvalued prices - something that should not happen in the Union State. In this background, today's statement by Dzmitry Krutoi sounds like a surprise.
Commenting on the outcome of the Feb. 7 talks between Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Belarusian pundits have diverging views. Political analysts describe it as defeat and fiasco of the Belarusian negotiators. Economic commentators, on the contrary, argue that the switch to global prices for Russian crude will be beneficial to Belarus because it will finally push the authorities for systemic economic reforms.