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Kremlin mounts pressure on Belarus

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ria.ru

Russia is prepared to hold talks with Belarus over the natural gas supplies and new loans only after there is progress on deeper integration between the two countries, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak told reporter on Monday in Yekaterinburg.

"We are in the talks at the moment on deepening the integration processes. After we have finished dialogue on this topic, it will become clear when and how we will be unifying our gas market, making it a single market or a common market of natural gas," Kozak is quoted as saying by the Russian news agency TASS.

The Russian official hopes the solution will be found in the near future.

On 28 June, Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller said that the talks with Belarus on the extension of the gas supplies contract after 2019 were yet to begin. However, the company has reportedly received 'first proposals' from Belarus and is currently considering them.

The protocol prices of natural gas that Russia and Belarus agreed upon in 2017 expires this year. Minsk insists that the price of natural gas in Russia's Smolensk region would be fair for Belarusian consumers.

As of today, Belarus buys natural gas from Russia at $127 per 1000 cubic meters. In Russia's Smolensk Region, which borders Belarus, natural gas costs $70.