Belarusian delegation in Venezuela
The Belarusian Delegation, headed by the First Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Vladimir Semashko, visited Venezuela on 26 – 30 April.
The members of the delegation included Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik, Deputy Minister of Architecture and Construction Sergei Lastochkin, Deputy Industry Minister Gennadiy Sviderski, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Foodstuffs Leonid Marynich, Deputy Chairman of the Belneftekhim, Vladimir Volkov, as well as representatives of several Belarusian enterprises.
Comment. In addition to the existing extensive programme of the Belarusian-Venezuelan cooperation on the construction of Venezuelan sites, it appears that the parties will discuss other issues, primarily economic. However, given the current economic crisis in Venezuela, one should not expect significant funds coming to Belarus from them.
Belarus buys oil from Venezuela for almost $ 800 per tonne, while Russia supplies at $ 430. Moreover, the current contract with Russia obliges Belarus to buy 22 million tons of oil, which makes economically inefficient the purchase of 4 million tons of the overseas oil. It is possible that the subject of negotiations (given Vladimir Semashko’s role of Energy supervisor in the country) will concern the prospects and the outcome of the diversification of oil supplies to Belarus and the end of the “Venezuelan” project (Azeri oil supply was also virtually frozen, only 600 million tons of oil were supplied from the needed 800 million tons, Mozyr oil refinery is closed in April and for the following two months for repairs, i.e. in addition to the controversial economic effect of the project, Belarus is physically not able to process the Venezuelan crude oil). Last week Belarus tried to negotiate processing of Azeri oil at Ukrainian refineries. It also shows the reduced interest of Belarus in the Venezuelan-Ukraine-Azerbaijan oil transport project.
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.