Bypassing Druzhba

Russia has got the well-expected response to its threats to curtail crude shipment via the Druzhba pipeline to Belarus. Yesterday, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliev discussed possible deliveries of Azeri crude at the meeting with his Belarus counterpart Alexander Lukashenko. Before it, Aliev had canvassed the transit coordination with Ukraine.

The key concern of the yesterday's get-together of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliev and Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko was making out the strategy to protect Belarus from pressurizing Russia.

Past week, Russia announced it would probably curtail by 30 percent the shipment of crude to Belarus via Druzhba pipeline and attributed that move to inspections of pipeline's condition.

In Minsk, Lukashenko offered Aliev to go through the possible deliveries of crude for Belarus refineries and its transit via Belarus, the state agency of Belarus, BelTA, reported. According to Lukashenko, he was given "the principal agreement" for participation of Belarus' companies in producing crude in Azerbaijan.

But Aliev's response to these initiatives of Lukashenko was traditionally vague. "Our economies can successfully supplement each other," Aliev said officially. Of-the-record, the sources say that even though the Azeri president granted no beneficial access to crude production, he didn't turn down the idea of shipping crude to Belarus.