Belarus to Settle Gazprom Debts from Eurasian Bank Loan: Press
Belarus will use around $330mn of a loan from the Eurasian Fund for Stabilisation and Development (EFSD) to pay its gas debts to Gazprom, Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov was quoted as saying by the Tass news agency on September 20.
The $500mn EFSD loan will be provided to Belarus along with a $1bn state loan from Russia, promised earlier this month after talks between Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi.
Gazprom has charged Belarus $127/'000 m3 for gas since the beginning of 2019, but Minsk has been pushing for a discount and has not paid the full amount, causing it to rack up a debt. Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said on September 7 that Belarus would settle the sum before the end of September although "there are many technical issues." This suggests that Belarus has given up seeking a price cut.
Belarus and Russia have been in a dispute over oil and gas supplies for years, culminating in Russia temporarily shutting down oil shipments to its eastern neighbour at the start of this year, because of a row over prices. This proved disastrous for Belarus' refining sector, which relies on duty-free Russian oil to produce fuels for exports, providing a major source of revenues.
Complicating matters further, the two countries have been in on-again, off-again talks on deeper political and economic integration. Until recently, Lukashenko had opposed Russian calls for the two countries to merge into a single state . But the Belarusian leader now needs Russia's support to quell mass unrest against his regime, and integration talks have resumed. He visited Putin in Moscow earlier this month, where Putin referred to the recent elections.