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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belarus Considers Russian Nuclear Bid

Itar-TassSidorsky, center, and Russian Ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov meeting Zubkov at Minsk airport Friday.
MINSK -- Belarus said Friday that it would hold a tender next year for the construction of the country's first nuclear power plant, which could cost up to $3.5 billion, and Russia signaled its interest.

Belarus has virtually no energy resources and has quarreled with Moscow over the prices it pays for Russian gas, on which it relies heavily. President Alexander Lukashenko has long talked of diversifying energy sources, and on Thursday he pointed to Japan as an ideal partner for the nuclear project.

"The government at the moment is doing preliminary work. We have offers from Western partners and we have an offer from Russia," Belarussian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky said after meeting his Russian counterpart, Viktor Zubkov, in Minsk on Friday.

Earlier, Zubkov said Russia was "capable of offering the most pragmatic and safest way" of building a nuclear power plant.

Russia's ambassador to Belarus has said Russia could provide a loan to cover the entire cost of the project.

Zubkov also said it would make sense to revisit a proposal to build a second gas export pipeline to Europe through Belarus.

"It is probably expedient once again to revert to the question of constructing a second link, but to do that we will need to tally all resources," Zubkov said.

Sidorsky said he estimated that building the link could cost $2 billion to $3 billion.

Gazprom has, however, abandoned the so-called Yamal-2 link across Belarus due to low demand in Poland. It is now focusing on a project to build the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany.