Belarus Wants Truce In Transportation War With Moscow

Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Papou on February 9 called on the Russian Transportation Ministry to resolve a recent controversy over cargo shipments through talks, RFE/RL's Belarus Service and Belapan reported. "Millions of tons of cargo goes from Russia to Europe and back via Belarus. It is necessary to sit down [at a negotiating table] and remove mutual problems," Papou said. Moscow has recently barred Belarusian trucking companies from carrying third-country shipments to or from Russia in response to Minsk's move to tighten control over the movement of goods from Russia's Kaliningrad exclave to mainland Russia. Moscow says Belarusian customs officers now inspect each truck originating from Kaliningrad Oblast and bound for Russia, with each shipment escorted from border to border. Minsk claims that these measures are needed to counter duty-evasion schemes, in which trucks arriving from Kaliningrad and officially destined for mainland Russia are in fact unloaded in Belarus. JM