Belarus Lost About $600mn Because of ‘Oil Conflict’ With Russia

Belarus lost 1.5 billion Belarusian rubles (about $600 million) because of the oil dispute with Russia, President Alexander Lukashenko said in his address to the nation and the parliament on Tuesday, TASS reported.

“In this difficult situation, we did not close our enterprises, unlike the rest of the world, we sent an additional 500 million rubles from the budget to those who needed state support most. All this was in the situation when because of the oil conflict with Russia our budget failed to receive 1.5 billion [Belarusian] rubles,” Lukashenko said.

The president also noted that Belarus had lost about $9.5 billion over five years due to expensive loans and unfair prices for energy resources.

“The results of the current period have shown that high external dependence on one or two countries puts us in a vulnerable position. Due to trade wars, unfair prices, expensive loans, the country has lost $9.5 billion in economic growth over five years,” Lukashenko said stressing that this money could have been “pensions, scholarships, salaries of state employees, support for families.”

“We have drawn conclusions and we are already implementing a strategy to ensure that by 2025 the influence of such factors is minimal,” he said.

“It is necessary to go further with a clear understanding of goals and prospects. This is not an ordinary phrase. The crisis is not only a disaster, but also a time of great opportunities, new niches,” the Belarusian leader stressed. “Therefore, whatever it may cost, the government and the National Bank should direct all resources and reserves to the real sector of the economy. There is only one goal – to save the country, to save jobs without losing income. I’ll say it bluntly: it is about surviving before thriving.”

Currently, Russia and Belarus are working on the coordination of a package of 31 roadmaps for deeper integration. Some disagreements over oil prices had cropped up in recent months. Furthermore, Lukashenko criticized Russia’s decision to close its border amid the pandemic. The presidential election will be held in Belarus on August 9.

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