The recent visit of Vladimir Putin to Minsk gave new impetus to the integration processes in the Union of the States of Russia and Belorussia. During the visit a number of agreements first of all in the sphere of economic relations between Russia and Belorussia were signed witnessed by the heads of government of both states. A decision of Russia to provide Minsk with a stabilization loan totaling US$ 1.5 billion for 15 years with a 5-year grace period was an important result of the summit.
After the session of the intergovernmental council Prime Minister of Belorussia Sergey Sidorsky in return highly appraised the work of the council and emphasized that the parties discussed and fully approved the fuel and energy balance of the Union of the States for 2008. According to the Russian Ministry of Industry and Energy, the session of the Council of Ministers raised an issue on increase of electricity supplies to Belorussia from 3.5 up to 5 billion kWh.
It was decided to supply crude oil to Belorussia in 2008 in the same volumes as in 2007, i.e. about 21.5 million tons, of them 18 million tons will be delivered by pipeline. Next year, the gas supplies are expected to be increased from 21.2 billion cubic meters up to 21.6 billion cubic meters.
It is known that the gas problem is the most sensitive to the Belorussian party. “GAZPROM” offers to Minsk to pay a world price, i.e. 165 Dollars per 1000 cubic meters, while in 2007 Minsk paid 100 Dollars only. At the same time, the Belorussian Parliament approved a budget for the next year in terms of 125 Dollars per 1000 cubic meters.
Besides, the agreements of the Belorussian party with “GAZPROM” secure the long-term gas supply contract dated December 31, 2006. In this connection, Minsk had to settle a compromise and sell 50% of Beltransgaz shares to “GAZPROM” within 4 years and grant access to Moscow to gas transit control.
In general, as Victor Zubkov noted, Russia and Belorussia succeeded in development of mutual cooperation that is expressly confirmed by the economic result of such cooperation – in 2007 a commodity turnover between Moscow and Minsk totals about US$ 24 billion. “There are no substantial disaccords between Belorussia and Russia”, the Russian Premier concluded, RIA Novosti reported.