Minsk aggravates relations with Kremlin to resolve oil and gas dispute
Minsk has intentionally aggravated the Belarusian-Russian relations in order to resolve the protracted dispute over oil and gas supplies. Previously, Minsk has applied efforts to create a positive information background and to promote amicable attitude towards Belarus among the Russian population. Nevertheless, the Belarusian authorities are not interested in reducing their participation in the Kremlin’s integration projects.
At a meeting with the State Secretary of the Union State Grigory Rapota last week, President Lukashenka urged Russia to decide on the future of joint integration projects.
The Union State remains a symbol of a special and close relationship between Belarus and Russia, and amid enhanced international isolation, its importance for the Kremlin’s domestic politics has increased. Belarus treats the Union State as an additional mechanism for preserving the exclusive relationship with Moscow and for promoting her interests. Apparently, despite the expectations of the Belarusian leadership, Union State officials attempted to avoid becoming involved in the energy dispute between Minsk and Moscow.
The Belarusian president has used the right timing in order to escalate tension over oil and gas issues with Russia. Russian society is extremely supportive of Minsk after the Belarusian delegation carried the Russian flag in the opening parade at the Paralympic Games 2016. In addition, the Russo-Belarusian escalation is taking place amid the IMF mission in Minsk. According to the Belarusian leadership, after it has demonstrated progress in the parliamentary elections, the window of opportunity to improve relations with western capitals has once again reopened, thus providing the Belarusian president with additional inspiration.
Despite multiple integration agreements between Belarus and Russia, Belarusian producers continue experiencing problems with supplies to the Russian market. For instance, most recently, there were several reports about Rosselkhoznadzor blocking supplies of Belarusian agricultural products to Russia.
Nevertheless, despite the escalation over energy supplies to Belarus, Minsk has not questioned its participation in the Kremlin’s integration projects.
According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.