Moscow will not aggravate relations with Minsk over oil in coming months
President Vladimir Putin has proposed to oblige the Belarusian oil refineries to use Russian infrastructure to transport oil products. Belarus has consistently refused to redirect the export of petrochemicals from the Baltic to Russian ports, despite discounts offered by the Russian railway. In addition to losing some economic benefits, Minsk could be refusing due to political risks, such as growing dependence on the Kremlin. Disagreements over the supply of Russian oil to Belarus are likely to persist due to Russia’s firm determination to develop its ports.
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.