Belarus hopes for deferment of gas payment
The deferral of payments will enable the country to make substantial savings, critical for the treasury at the moment. As well, it will bring down the foreign currency demand, affecting the overall balance of supply and demand of foreign currencies and the ability of the National Bank to inhibit the USD growth.
Belarus and “Gazprom” have nearly completed negotiations about the gas price in 2012, the agreement will be finalized during a meeting of Dmitry Medvedev and Alexander Lukashenko, Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin said.
Belarus wants to deferment the payment for gas delivered in 2011 till 2012.
Belarus proposes either to distribute the amount due for gas delivered in 2011 equally through 2012, or to make quarterly payments, or to include debts into the gas price. According to unofficial information, Belarus has already received a prior consent of Russia to deferment the gas payments, currently the gas price for Belarus is under discussion.
Bearing in mind that, according to the National Statistics Committee, on 1 August Belarus had no gas payments arrears, the amount of debt in question had accumulated since July.
The National Statistics Committee data published on 14 October, quotes that arrears of Belarus for gas by 1 September amounted to Br 267.4 billion (USD 50 million calculated by the NBB exchange rate of 1 September). Bearing in mind that, according to the National Statistics Committee, on 1 August Belarus had no gas payments arrears, the amount of debt in question had accumulated since July (Belarus gas payments are due on 21-23 day of the following month). Accordingly, Belarus underpaid for gas in September (for August) as well. Therefore, it is likely that Belarus is trying to negotiate a deferment of payment of not only an already existing debt, but also of the overall amount of payment due for future deliveries in the remaining 3 months.
The statistics says Russia has shipped about 13.4 billion cubic meters of gas during the past 8 months of 2011. The average price was USD 246. Therefore in January - August Belarus had to pay almost USD 3.2 billion to “Gazprom”, or USD 400 million per month on average. With the commencement of the heating season, gas consumption increases by more than twice therefore the deferral of payments will enable the country to make substantial savings, critical for the treasury at the moment. As well it will bring down the foreign currency demand, affecting the overall balance of supply and demand of foreign currencies and the ability of the National Bank to inhibit the USD exchange rate growth.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.