Belarus set to use EEU mechanisms to resolve disputes with Russia

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February 27, 2017 12:44
Image: http://eurasiaforum.ru

Belarus and Russia seem unable to resolve the bilateral dispute and are prompted to use mediation of the EEU agencies. The oil and gas dispute is likely to be resolved within the framework of this organisation. If this happens, Belarus will start to benefit from participating in the EEU.

Last week, the EEU agencies joined the conflict between Belarusian food producers and the Federal Service for Veterinarian and Vegetation Sanitary Supervision. In addition, the EEU Court confirmed the validity of Russian claims to Belarus in the case of equipment transit from Kaliningrad.

On February 22nd, the Eurasian Economic Commission ministers (the EEC is the executive body of the EEU) for industry and agro-industrial complex Valery Koreshkov and Sergei Sidorsky responded to the Federal Service for Veterinarian and Vegetation Sanitary Supervision (Rosselkhoznadzor) claims. In particular, they stated that at that moment the EEU had no approved methodology to determine the milk powder concentration, neither on the EEU, nor on the national level, including Russia. The Rosselkhoznadzor promotes methodology, which was developed by a commercial enterprise and was not approved by any national or supranational authority. The EEC stated that the Rosselkhoznadzor improperly used the said methodology, and therefore, the ban on Belarusian dairy products was unjustified.

Earlier, Sergey Sidorsky proposed to establish the Eurasian Association of Milk Producers in order to coordinate the interests of national producers on the EEU market. By establishing different industry associations, the competition between companies could actually be reduced and help to divide the market.

Last week, the parties somewhat progressed in resolving the oil and gas dispute, also through cooperating within the EEU. According to statements by Energy Minister Potupchik and Vice Prime Minister Semashko, the dispute would be resolved through creating a common electricity market by 2019 and a common gas market by 2025, which, according to Belarus, required coordination of the gas price in Russia and Belarus. Perhaps, Russia did agree to apply some indices when pricing gas for Belarus, but in any case, Belarus declared a willingness to abandon cross subsidies for energy tariffs on the domestic market.

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Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries entangle in confrontation spiral
October 02, 2017 11:57
Фото: RFRM

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.

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