| JRL Home | JRL Simple/Mobile | RSS | Newswire | Archives | JRL Newsletter | Support | About
Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Belarus gas deal could be a warning to Ukraine

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counter part Mikhail Myasnikovich shook hands and grinned broadly to cement a new gas deal between their two countries.

At first glance it looked like a seal upon friendlier relations between the two ex-soviet states and a reward to Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko for selling Beltranzgas, his prize bargaining chip, to Russian energy giant and strong right arm of the Kremlin, Gazprom.

But the dotted line has not yet been signed and analysts point out that the warm gestures to Belarus could be little more than an attempt to pressure Ukraine, in the wake of largely fruitless talks between presidents Medvedev and Yanukovich last week.

Belarus's new gas deal

The customs union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan is gearing up and Moscow would like to see Ukraine swallow its European ambitions and join in.

Russia will offer a reduced gas pricing formula to Belarus from 2012 as part of an integration processes between the two ex-Soviet republics, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday.

"Russia has taken a decision to introduce an integration descending rate into the gas pricing formula for Belarus from 2012," Putin said after a Council of Ministers meeting of the Union State between Russia and Belarus, RIA Novosti reported.

The descending rate is to be set out in further negotiations between the national gas companies from both countries, Putin said. It will be linked to Gazprom's acquisition of the remaining 50 per cent of gas carrier Beltransgaz.

Trouble in the pipeline

Mikhail Korchemkin, head of East European Gas points pointed out that Belarus isn't set to enjoy Russian prices for gas until 2015 and this hovering question mark could mean that the Moscow and Minsk's gas negotiations are far from over and that what is happening now is an attempt to put pressure on Ukraine, he told Kommersant.

Talks with Kiev are not going well and another gas war could be in the pipeline for this winter, the paper reported last week.

Not content with Belarusian carrier Beltransgaz, Gazprom is eyeing up Ukrainian Naftogaz. Kommersant cites Gazprom chief Alexei Miller, saying that Ukraine could learn from the Belarus example.

Kiev has apparently realized this too. "The Ukrainian side has already submitted proposals for cooperation in the gas sector," Miller said.

Gazprom desperate

But Miller could be clutching at straws, says Mikhail Krutukhin. Europe, a major customer for Russian gas, has little interest in building new pipelines. The second part of Nord Stream is already under question and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has questioned building the third one as well. South Stream, another Russian joint project, could also face restrictions.

As such Ukraine is still a favored gas route to Europe, prompting Russia to renew its attempts to gain influence over Kiev's pipelines.

"If they don't manage to do this by the end of the year it is possible that we will see a repeat of the gas conflict and all that that entails," Krutikhin said.

Keyword Tags:

Russia, Oil, Gas, Energy - Russian News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

Bookmark and Share - Back to the Top -        


Bookmark and Share

- Back to the Top -        

  Follow Johnson's Russia List on Twitter Tweet