Refineries to recover losses from Russia’s tax manoeuvre by rising motor fuel prices
Belneftekhim is starting a gradual increase in the motor fuel price due to the deteriorated terms of oil supply from Russia to Belarus and the growth in oil prices on the world market. Fuel prices in Belarus remained unchanged for two years, Russia’s tax manoeuvre has led to an increase in the oil price for Belarus by USD 23.7 per tonne in 2017, while oil supply to Belarus in 2017 is estimated at 16 million tons. The Belarusian refineries are likely to gradually increase the motor fuel price by BYN 0.4 per litre in total in order to compensate for the losses, deteriorated financial health of oil refining and a decrease in fuel sales at a discount price to agribusiness enterprises. The modernisation of the refinery and the possible reduction in oil supplies to Belarus to 12 million tons could increase refinery’s needs and lead to a more significant increase in the fuel price in 2017.
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.