Belarus and Russia are once again approaching the conflict zone
Russia has restricted imports of Belarusian dairy products, which made both, Lukashenka and the EEU leadership, discontent. Negotiations on the privatization of several large Belarusian enterprises by Russian business have resumed, and negotiations on gas have been scheduled to resume soon. Russia will make use of the weakening of Belarus’ positions following the local election campaign.
Yielded to pressure from dairy industry lobbyists, Rosselkhonadzor has imposed restrictions on imports of Belarusian dairy products to Russia as of February 26th. Dairy products are the second most important item of Belarusian exports; about 90% of the Belarusian dairy is supplied to the Russian market. Meanwhile, Russian producers, suffering from overstocked warehouses, have achieved a competitive advantage through the ban on foreign competitive products.
The Eurasian Economic Commission (the EEC) has noted that the ban violated the EEU rules and proposed to hold a hearing within the EEC and until then, not enforcing the restrictions. Russia very rarely follows the EEC recommendations, especially given their non-binding nature. However, the Belarusian lobby within the EEC succeeded several times.
In addition, Belarus is planning to resume gas negotiations with Russia. Judging by the fact that Semashko still leads the Belarusian negotiating team, the talks are likely to lead to no avail, once again. However, in anticipation of the results from these negotiations, Belarus is likely to continue to finance loss-making enterprises at the expense of new national debts and miss other opportunities for economic development.