Sep 8, 2021
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Putin and Lukashenko will start the main bargaining of the year on September 9

Putin and Lukashenko will start the main bargaining of the year on September 9

Photo: Valery Sharifulin / TASS

The allied program to create a common gas market with Russia is ready. This was stated on the air of the state TV channel “Belarus 1” by the First Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Nikolay Snopkov

According to him, the program is based on “defining unambiguous principles and approaches to the functioning of the united gas market that are clear to both sides next year.”

The deputy chairman of the Belarusian government noted that now the price of Russian gas for Minsk in the amount of $ 128.5 per thousand cubic meters is “the best in comparison with all CIS countries and in comparison with the European Union.” He called this price “comfortable”, noting, however, that “the market is volatile.” Therefore, a lot depends on the situation on it.

Snopkov stressed that the authorities of the two countries have yet to determine the further principles of gas price formation within the framework of the Union State. This, as he explained, is about a certain formula according to which this price in the common market will be calculated so that it remains at a comfortable level for Belarus.

The First Deputy Prime Minister said that at the moment, a consensus has been found between Minsk and Moscow on all 28 union integration programs, which have been working on since December 2019.

“We have reached the home stretch. I very much hope that the presidents of the two countries during the meeting on September 9 will appreciate our work: are the programs ready for signing in the form and in the structures in which they are currently presented by the governments, “BelTA news agency quoted him as saying.

Let us remind you that on August 9, during the “Big Conversation with the President” Alexander Lukashenko stated that only one roadmap for integration, which concerns natural gas, remains to be coordinated between Moscow and Minsk. At the same time, he noted that Belarus does not ask for low prices, but would like “prices to be equal.”

Until August 31, the single gas market program remained uncoordinated due to disagreements between the parties in the pricing mechanism. Confirmed by the Ambassador of Belarus to the Russian Federation Vladimir Semashko

And now the Belarusian authorities are talking about the “finish line” …

But does this mean that the parties managed to reach some kind of compromise?

Here it will be useful to recall the July talks between the leaders of the two countries in St. Petersburg, at which Lukashenka was promised that the gas price for Belarus in 2022 would not be indexed and would remain at the current year’s level, i.e. will amount to $ 128.5 per thousand cubic meters. In addition, according to the press secretary of the Russian president Dmitry Peskov, the parties came to an agreement on the amount of credit support in connection with the tax maneuver. He did not elaborate on what volume it was talking about.

Interestingly, about a year earlier, Lukashenka had expressed dissatisfaction that Russia was selling gas to the republic at a higher price than the EU countries. In particular, Germany, which paid $ 70 per thousand cubic meters at a time when it was supplied to Belarus for $ 127. Lukashenka called it unfair and demanded gas prices “like in Smolensk.”

As a result, a single gas market may represent, “JV” told Stanislav Mitrakhovich, Leading Expert of the National Energy Security Fund, Lecturer at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation:

– From the time of YeltsinProbably, we hear statements from the Belarusian side that all documents on integration have been agreed and are about to be signed. I myself remember how this spring the same Semashko said that almost all the roadmaps were approved, there were a couple of weeks left – they would be adopted. But spring has passed, summer has passed, autumn has come – these documents have not yet been signed.

Could this happen? Of course. The question is still the same: is Lukashenka ready, not in words, but in deeds, to agree to an additional level of integration.

Because until now, he tried in every possible way to distance himself from this process and frustrated this integration for years.

He is responsible for the fact that we still do not have a single currency, there is no single civil and tax codes. He also refused to sell Belarusian enterprises to Russian business.

At the same time, Alexander Grigorievich stubbornly wants the price of gas sold to Belarus to be the same as in the Smolensk region of Russia.

“SP”: – As the head of a state that is not very rich in resources, one can understand him …

– But in Russia prices also differ for different regions and different consumers. Some regions are subsidized by Russia, including the Smolensk region. And for some reason Lukashenka wants to pay for gas, like residents of the Russian subsidized region. She is supposedly next door.

But he does not agree to deeper integration, which means that we are not a single state. Our level of integration is actually lower than in the EU, for example.

Therefore, it is completely incomprehensible to me why on earth we should sell goods to someone else’s consumer at the same price as we sell to ours. If the Belarusian leader at one time went for integration, the answer would be clear: you go for integration, we give a discount. But this is not happening.

What is a single market in general, in an amicable way?

After all, the world has the experience of other integration formations that have gone through this entire process.

Here’s what it means: I am a manufacturer in the X-country, I can come to the Y-country and sell my goods there to a local buyer in about the same way as I sell in my own country.

So, in Moscow, for example, you can buy Belarusian sour cream for the same money as it would be sold in Gomel or Minsk. This is a single market. The same is the gas: Gazprom comes to Belarus and sells it directly to some industrial enterprise. Now he cannot do this.

“SP”: – Why?

– Because there is a Belarusian enterprise Beltopgaz, owned by the government of Belarus, which buys gas from Gazprom, and then resells it to local Belarusian consumers with a very large margin.

Here’s an analogy – where is sour cream, and where is gas …

There are many more stories.

Lukashenka refused to sell machine-building plants to Russia. He pretended that in conditions of competition with Europe and China, they would somehow survive on their own, which, I think, is simply ridiculous.

I’m not saying that he refused to recognize Crimea as part of Russia, and even refused to establish air links with the peninsula. I did not recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia. And he did not provide any, even symbolic assistance in Syria.

In these conditions, it is completely incomprehensible to me why we should make any discounts. He should be happy if the price remains at the same level as it is now. This is much less than in Europe, where it is already $ 600 per thousand cubic meters.

“SP”: – The Belarusian deputy chairman called it “comfortable” …

– Still would. Let me remind you that at the beginning of the summer of 2020, before the start of street protests, Lukashenka was happy to talk about how they would find an alternative to Russian oil. They said that they would buy American oil, which would pass through Lithuania.

And they were going to buy gas in Europe. There were even statements about the reversal of the operation of the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline. And the U-turn is actually a colossal event – we are supplying gas to European countries through it.

Then all these conversations somehow came to naught. The plots of the protests were discussed more, and how Russia helped Lukashenka to retain power.

But what in the end do we have again? A year has passed since then, the integration documents have not yet been signed.

“SP”: – On Thursday, September 9, Alexander Grigorievich will fly to Moscow for negotiations with Vladimir Putin, then they will sign together …

– Let’s wait until Thursday and see what they sign. Until now, all these statements have ended in nothing. If, finally, the Russian side managed to induce Lukashenka to take concrete actions, then honor and praise of our diplomacy. But let’s take our time …

As for the redirection of Belarusian goods to Russian ports, this story lasted for years. And instead of actually taking everything and redirecting it, it was necessary to wait for the roasted rooster to bite – until Lithuania began to impose restrictions on Belarusian exports through its sea terminals.

Why not do it earlier? No, they said, “it will be more expensive for us, let Russia give discounts.”

By the way, we gave discounts through the Russian Railways tariff. Apparently this was not enough.

Although, it would seem, what would not be translated earlier, why it was necessary to wait for the very edge and trade with Lithuania, which, according to Lukashenka, wants to overthrow it. It is very strange.

And, of course, I was very impressed by the story of the interview that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Vladimir Makei gave it a couple of months ago to the Kommersant newspaper. When asked about integration, he said there that “we have a lot of vectors, about 170 – these are all countries with which Belarus has economic ties.”

Wow. That is, Russia is one of one hundred and seventy countries with which Belarus simply trades. With this approach, perhaps, let other countries sponsor Lukashenka and give him loans.

“SP”: – But he does not refuse integration …

– Yes, only the process has been going on since the 90s. And, according to the original plan, we should have more integration a long time ago than in the European Union. However, the level of integration, relatively speaking, between France and Germany is now much higher than the level of integration between Russia and Belarus.

How long can all this be agreed upon?

In fact, it is obvious why Lukashenka did not do this. He is used to sitting on two chairs. And he always tried to frighten Europe by rapprochement with Russia, and Russia – by rapprochement with Europe. That is why Makei does not dismiss this demonstratively. And Crimea does not recognize.

It is clear that he wants to make it clear to the same Europe that “it is not necessary to impose too strong sanctions against me, it is still unknown what I will sign and what I will not sign with Russia.”

Note that the EU sanctions, which were introduced a couple of months ago, turned out to be relatively lenient compared to what was anticipated. Many assured that the Belarusian economy would come to an end. In fact, in these documents, it was written that basic potash fertilizers and basic petroleum products were not subject to restrictions. Only minor ones fall.

That is, the main export of Belarusian oil products and potash fertilizers remains. The European Union is still buying all this.

And Lukashenka, naturally, understands that the EU does not want to break with him too much. And he sends signals there: “I have not signed any documents with Moscow, I have not sacrificed a single gram of sovereignty.”

Although the experience of the European Union just shows that there the movement towards greater prosperity for the population, business and the economy proceeded precisely through the limitation of sovereignty. And – yes, the EU countries donated part of it.

Minsk categorically does not want this. But they want cheap gas and, preferably, more loans, which then can not be given back.

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