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.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.