Belarus Raises Transit Fees on Russian Oil Bound for Europe

By VOA News

Belarus has raised transit fees on Russian oil headed for Europe by more than 30 percent, following through on a warning issued last week.

The Minsk government says the hike, which is expected to generate about $50 million annually, is aimed at offsetting energy price hikes imposed by Moscow last month. The Belarusian price hike is effective Thursday.

Moscow has not commented on the increase. But Russian Trade Minister German Gref said last week that Belarus could not raise transit fees without Russian consent.

Russia last month more than doubled the price Belarus pays for natural gas, setting off a string of charges and counter-charges that led to a brief cut-off of Russian oil bound for western Europe.

The disputes have strained relations between the Kremlin and the Minsk government of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Mr. Lukashenko said last month that higher gas prices imposed by Moscow and reduced profits from discount Russian oil refined in Belarus and sold to European markets would result in losses of about $5 billion annually.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.