Moscow can “forgive” the oil products smuggling in exchange for enterprises of the Belarusian military industrial sector.
Experts Tatyana Manenak comments for Radio Svaboda on the statement by the Belarusian deputy PM on possible resuming Russian oil supplies in 2012.
“Returning 1.5 billion dollars is an issue of negotiations. To demand this money Russia needed to prove that Belarus really violated the agreement in the framework of the Common Economic Space. Russia should have applied to the court of the Customs Union to prove it. It would have taken much time, because Belarus didn't violate the agreement formally. Minsk found a loophole in the agreement. The Russian side didn't raise a harsh question of returning this money to Russia's budget.
Russia's Transneft company really announced the reduction in supplies to Belarus in the last quarter of the year, but it was done to press on Belarus to make the country agree on amendments to the customs union agreement that would prevent the possibility of using the “solvent-thinner” scheme.
Belarus is not eager to do so, because the amendments can create difficulties for importing all Russian oil products, including those for the needs of Belarus.
The flexibility of Russia's position can be explained with a recent visit of Russian deputy prime minister in charge of defence industry Dmitry Rogozin to Belarus to discuss closer integration in the military industrial sector. Particular Belarusian enterprises were mentioned during the talks – Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant, Peleng company and so on. Belarusian deputy PM Uladzimir Syamashka discussed oil supplies in Moscow with Arkady Dvorkovich and Dmitry Rogozin. It doesn't seem to be a coincidence. There are priorities in Russian policy and lobbying influence the military industrial sector through Rogozin to make Russia resume its oil supplies in previous amount,” the expert thinks.