MINSK, 2 December (BelTA) – Belarus would love to pay Russian rubles in exchange for Russian natural gas and oil but the Russian government has rejected the proposal. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the relevant statement in a recent interview with Dmitry Kiselyov, Director General of the Russian state news agency MIA Rossiya Segodnya, BelTA has learned.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that competition should be preserved in the course of economic integration but equal conditions are a must, too. “Our specialists may come to an agreement with yours one day and we will introduce the single currency. But for now we cannot switch to national currencies in Belarus-Russia trade. The volume is huge. Up to $50 billion. I suggest: listen, let's switch to the Russian ruble in trade in natural gas, oil, and so on,” the president said.
“And what happened then?” Dmitry Kiselyov wondered.
The Russian side said no, Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.
When asked why, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted: “Ask [Prime Minister of Russia Mikhail] Mishustin and your specialists about that. But we have to go through it.”
During the interview Aleksandr Lukashenko also said that after the adoption of 28 Union State programs it is now necessary to implement legislative changes, work out the relevant regulatory acts in order to realize the programs. “And we've already started doing a lot. It will give us the single economic space both in Russia and Belarus. Prices will not be different. Let's say, natural gas is priced at $128 per 1,000m3 in Belarus and up to $80 in Russia. A big difference. We don't care how much it will cost – 300, 400, or 50. Enabling equal conditions for our commercial entities is the key,” the Belarusian leader stressed. “In order to achieve that, we have yet to address a number of some matters: customs, taxes, and so on so that your people could also see that we have the same pricing practices for natural gas, oil, and the rest and so that they could understand that Belarus is not a foreign country, that Belarus does this, this, and that for Russia. And transparency.”