Minsk aspires to compensate for losses from oil with additional gas concessions
The talks about changing the formula for the gas price for Belarus are still ongoing, no decision, as yet. Belarusian government officials are demonstrating optimism and confidence that Russia will reduce the gas price. However, each month, the lack of the decision increases Belarus’ losses from the reduced supply of the Russian oil to the Belarusian refineries. However, the Belarusian leadership avoids the aggravation and is not willing to raise the issue publicly, unlike before. The Russian government insists that Belarus accepts and repays its debt for gas, and then it will be ready to resume oil supplies to Belarus in agreed volumes. Minsk waits for Moscow to accept concessions on gas price and until then pretends there is not tension in relations with the Kremlin.
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.