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.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.