Belarus increases debt for gas to Russia
In the third quarter of 2011 Belarus owes Russia about $ 140 million for delivered gas and expects to pay for it $ 245 instead of $ 280. The increased debt to Gazprom is one of the ways to artificially reduce the foreign currency demand at the foreign exchange, and to postpone further devaluation of the ruble.
The Beltransgaz requested the Gazprom to defer payments for the third quarter of 2011 gas deliveries and to pay $ 245 per c.m. (the price applied to the second quarter of 2011) with the contract price for the third quarter of $ 279. During the third quarter of 2011 4.231 billion cubic meters of gas have been delivered to Belarus, therefore the underpayment is about $ 140 million.
Against the background of long discussions about the draft socio-economic development plan and 2012 budget negotiations the Belarusian government has not dared to name the target price of gas for the next year. As a result, preliminary price has been voiced by the Russian Ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov: USD 180 per c.m. He noted, however, that the gas price had not yet been finalized.
The increased debt to Gazprom is one of the ways to artificially reduce the demand for foreign currency at the foreign exchange, and to postpone further devaluation of the ruble. In the short term, this policy is effective, but in the long run has two problems: 1) the proceeds from the privatization of Beltransgaz will be swallowed by the accumulated debt, and 2) the new lower price of gas has not yet been confirmed by the Russian leadership, potentially it could be an unpleasant surprise for the financial authorities of the country.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.