Moscow has suggested during ongoing talks on the terms of oil deliveries to Belarus in the fourth quarter of this year and in 2013 that Belarus transfer $1.5 billion more to the Russian budget over its reported move to export diesel fuel made of Russian crude under the guise of solvents, diluents and lubricants.
"Russia has suggested returning to the Russian budget the duties that it did not receive because of Belarus' exports of solvents, diluents, lubricants, etc.," an unnamed Russian government official was quoted as saying.
Belarusian political analyst Valery Karbalevich commented on the occurred situation (which is dangerous for Belarus) in the interview with UDF.BY.
-Does the requirement of Moscow to return $1.5 billion to the Russian budget mean the beginning of the new Ice Age [conflict] in the bilateral relationships of Russia and Belarus?
-Their conflict is a little bit strange. They voice anonymous statements while the parties beware to talk about the oil conflict officially.
I would like to note that there are no informational war, which is usual for every Russia-Belarus conflict. Besides, Lukashenka was very discreet when talking about Russia's leadership.
The tension between the countries don't transcend to a public level - the conflict has 'behind-the-scenes' character.
But the conflict is getting sharper - Russia has passed from words to deeds. The volume of oil deliveries were cut in the fourth quarter of 2012 and in 2013. Moreover, Russia acts within a very unhealthy 'field' for Minsk - the oil 'field'.
-Valery, will another escalation of the Belarusian-Russian bilateral relations make the official Minsk to turn to Europe, at least, in a half-faced way? Or Minsk will try to resolve the conflict with Moscow to the last...
There will be a 'both-and' approach. It is clear that there will be some diplomatic gestures in the West address - probably, the Belarusian authorities will even release one or two political prisoners. In general, the rhetoric of the official Minsk with respect to the West has become more aggressive. It looks like Minsk demonstrates some readiness for improving the relationships, but it wants them to be improved on the conditions of Minsk.