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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow, Minsk Settle Oil Dispute

AP / RIA-NovostiDeputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin telling President Dmitry Medvedev that he has signed a deal on transit of Russian oil through Belarus.

Russia and Belarus settled a nearly monthlong dispute over a new oil supply contract for this year, which came after Moscow agreed to a “series of compromises,” Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said late Wednesday.  

The two sides had been fighting over duties on imported oil that Belarus re-exports to Europe — a key source of revenue for the country’s struggling economy. Russia will still export oil for Belarus’ domestic consumption duty free under the deal, Sechin said.

“The Belarussians’ position was really harsh for us. We made a series of compromises, taking into consideration the special relations with our brotherly republic and with the people of Belarus,” Sechin said at a signing ceremony, according to comments posted on the government web site.

Sechin and Belarussian First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko signed an agreement that also guaranteed stable transit deliveries through their countries to Europe, hoping to ease fears of new energy cutoffs.

“We were able to prove that Belarus’ domestic oil needs were not 5 million tons, but 6.3 million towns, excluding our domestic oil production,” Semashko said, Interfax reported.

Sechin said the fee for transiting oil across Belarus would rise by 11 percent, RIA-Novosti reported.

The agreement will also allow the two sides to decide on a higher volume of duty-free imports toward the end of the year, Semashko said. By Oct. 1, the quota for duty-free supplies will be reconsidered based on Belarussian economic growth, he said.

Moscow and Minsk will begin talks on greater cooperation in other energy matters in the near future, Sechin said.