In H1 2015 oil supplies to Belarus will not reduce
In January – February 2015, Belarus supplied 140 thousand tons of petrol to the Russian market with annual supply volume agreed at 1.8 million tons. In March, Belarus stopped petrol supplies.
According to the agreements with Russia, if Belarus fails to supply petrol according to the plan, Russia may reduce oil supplies in the amount of 5 tons per ton of undersupplied oil products. However, due to changes in the refinery economy, Russia will not apply restrictive measures to Belarus. In 2015, Belarus, therefore, might maintain petroleum products production volumes at the level of 2014. Nevertheless, financial health of the Belarusian refineries might deteriorate. Firstly, due to falling oil prices, and secondly, due to the increased demand of the government to transfer refineries’ funds to the budget. On the domestic market, the cost of fuel is no longer tied to the US dollar, but fuel prices will not be reduced due to the need to supplement the budget in 2015.
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.