Reduction in railway tariffs by Russian Railways will not affect short-term logistics of petroleum products
As of October 19th, 2016, Russian Railways introduced a 25% discount on the transit of oil from Barbarov and Navapolatsk to the ports in the north-west of Russia until December 31st, 2018. The discount would increase competition for Belarusian freights and reduce the flow of goods to the Baltic ports. In response, Lithuanian and Latvian railways are likely to offer discounts too. Russian companies may redirect part of their flows, however, a complete reorientation of oil cargo to the ports of Russia is unlikely. In the short-term, Belarusian oil products are likely to be shipped via the Baltic ports. The shipment via Russian ports requires building of supply chains and solving all the issues of shipping and cargo handling in the Russian 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.