Putin threatens Belarus over re-exports


Moscow: Russia may cut oil supplies to its ally Belarus if the country keeps using the crude, imported on favourable terms, for profitable oil products exports to third countries, President Vladimir Putin said yesterday.

"We still cannot reach an agreement (with Belarus) on joint standards to be applied to custom duties," Putin said in a televised question-and-answer session.

"We are really worried by some export and import issues when we look at the volume of our crude oil supplied to Belarussian oil refineries, the republic's actual consumption and then at the volume of oil products that are sold abroad (from Belarus)," he added.

The president said Russia was now seeking to "establish a normal dialogue with our Belarussian colleagues".

But he added: "If we fail to reach an agreement, we will be forced to impose some limitations which we would not want to do." He did not elaborate.

Russian crude supplies to neighbouring Belarus amounted to 4.5 million tonnes in the third quarter of this year.

Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft said earlier this month that, due to an oil leak, it had cut pressure in part of the Druzhba (Friendship) export pipeline in Europe, reducing its supplies to Belarus.

Other Russian crude suppliers to Belarus include Lukoil, Rosneft, Surgutneftegas, TNK-BP, Slavneft and Tatneft.

Last month Belarussian President Alexander Luka-shenko threatened to sever all ties with Moscow if it acted on its promise to sharply increase prices for Russian natural gas delivered to Belarus.