Belarus and Russia cancelled a new round of talks on electric power transit scheduled for January 19, postponing the protracted negotiations indefinitely.
When reached by BelaPAN on Tuesday, Lyudmila Zyankovich, spokeswoman for the Belenerha state energy concern, said that the talks had been postponed due to "purely organizational reasons."
Russia's Inter RAO UES electricity supplier was not immediately available for comment. The previous round of the talks took place in Moscow on January 14. Russia's RIA Novosti news agency described the talks with reference to an Inter RAO UES executive as a "balanced dialogue." In particular, it said, the delegations discussed various pricing scenarios and electricity transit aspects.
On January 4, Belenerha threatened to halt the supply of Russian electricity to the Kaliningrad exclave and the Baltic states, citing the lack of an agreement between Belarus and Russia on this year's terms of electric power transit.
Inter RAO UES spokesman Boris Zverev described the threat as "blackmail" and said that the Belarusian government had "demanded in breach of previous agreements" almost a 2.5-fold increase in the transit rates this past month. "After New Year, they demanded a further increase in the transit price by almost 2.5 times," he said.
Aleksandr Rolbinov, the Kaliningrad province's minister of infrastructure development, dismissed the power cut fears last week. "A power grid is not a water tap or some pipe that can be turned off or shut down. If someone tries to restrict supply somewhere, he will have to restrict himself as well. They will hardly do so. In this case this is a political, not an economic issue," he said.