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10 February 2020, 09:11

New details of Belarus-Russia talks in Sochi revealed

MINSK, 10 February (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin held one-on-one talks in Sochi, with the government members of the two countries joining later. They discussed a broad range of issues of the bilateral agenda and reached agreements on energy supplies to Belarus, BelTA has learned.

“The talks in Sochi were held in a constructive, normal and absolutely businesslike atmosphere. During the day we met with our Russian counterparts several times in various formats,” First Deputy Premier Dmitry Krutoi said. He was a member of the Belarusian delegation that took part in the talks.

In his words, the two presidents discussed a very broad range of issues. “Journalists focused solely on oil and gas, however, the one-on-one talks went much further than that, as the heads of state also reviewed the results of bilateral trade in 2019,” Dmitry Krutoi said.

According to him, Belarus' export to Russia rose 4.5% in 2019. “These figures provided by the National Statistics Committee are not yet final. The increase amounts to $600 million in money terms. This means that our goods sell well in Russia and that our trade is overall not bad. The governments were instructed to continue and reinforce this trend,” the first deputy premier said.

Dmitry Krutoi also noted that the presidents also held an in-depth discussion about the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant and the upcoming commissioning of the first energy unit. In addition to that, the governments are to discuss the loan terms for the nuclear power plant.

The first vice premier revealed the details of the agreements on oil and gas supplies to Belarus.

“Russia agreed that Belarusian oil refineries will purchase oil from Russian oil companies at global prices. The Belarusian president, the Belarusian side were pushing for it during the talks. It was reiterated that Belarus does not need any special or exclusive terms. We just want to buy oil at global prices, and that's all,” Dmitry Krutoi said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed with this approach and promised his backing in talks with Russian energy companies, including Transneft. He authorized Dmitry Kozak to supervise oil talks with Belarus. Up until recently Dmitry Kozak was in charge of the energy sector in the capacity of Russia's vice premier, now he is Deputy Head of the Russian President's Administration.

As far as the gas price is concerned, it was agreed that Belarus will pay $127 per 1,000 cubic meters, the same as in 2019. This is a base figure as of today. However, energy experts need to take stock of current trends and developments on the global market. “Naturally, at the talks with Gazprom we will try to negotiate a lower price, but the base option of $127 has been agreed on at the level of the presidents. Taking into consideration that our gas contract spans only January and February, a task was set to agree on the price for March-December [2020],” Dmitry Krutoi said.

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