Expert: Lukashenka Visit to Azerbaijan will Turn into Chest-thumping
"Alyaksandr Lukashenka has again showed his true colours," Konstantin Simonov, president of the National Energy Security Fund of Russia, said.
In such a way the expert commented to Regnum news agency on the visit of Belarus’ president to Azerbaijan, where Lukashenka and Ilham Aliyev are expected to discuss energy cooperation.
"First he says he is ready to resume cooperation with Russia and give it Belarusian refineries on favourable terms, but then he goes to Azerbaijan looking for oil," Konstantin Simonov said.
"The problem of Russian oil duties rises again. Imposing duties makes Russian oil supplies very costly for Belarus. Realizing he has fallen into the trap, Lukashenka is feverishly trying to get out the situation," the expert said.
"There is the only way out – finding alternative sources of oil. Lukashenka applied to Venezuela, but we calculated that the Russian duty-free oil is cheaper, but if the duties are imposed, the Venezuelan oil can cost less under certain conditions. However, the volumes offered by Chavez are not enough for Belarus. So, Lukashenka went to Azerbaijan with the old tasks to blackmail Russia with alternative oil supplies assuring he has a deal with Azerbaijan and will soon start supplies from this country," Simonov underlined.
"In real fact, we should understand that the Azerbaijani oil is rather marketable in Europe and there are supplies channels to the region, for example the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline. It means that Azerbaijan doesn’t have big volumes of free oil. Of course, Baku will be happy to play these games showing other consumers how many countries want to buy its oil, that’s why Lukashenka is waiting around. But we cannot say he will find serious volumes there. Belarus needs 20 million tons. Moscow can turn to financial instruments to punish Lukashenka for his behavior and reconsider terms of oil supplies to Belarus, change volumes of duty-free raw. So, the visit to Azerbaijan will turn into chest-thumping. Lukashenka won’t get real volumes," the expert thinks.
"Guided by this logic, the next country to visit should be Kazakhstan. It is real to get the needed volumes there, but logistics can be a problem. However, this can be rather good for chest-thumping," Simonov said.
According to him, Lukashenka’s strategy is to Russia that Belarus is able to survive without Russia. "To prove my words with facts, I offer to watch the volume of oil producing in Azerbaijan. According to the date of 2008, the country produced 44 million tons of oil per year. So, Azerbaijan must give Belarus a half of its production to compensate for Russian volume of supplies. This sounds unreal, because Azerbaijan already has the countries to sell its oil to," Konstanitn Simonov concluded.
Lukashenka started his visit to Azerbaijan on June 2.