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Ukrainian Official Says Russia Acting 'Nervously' In Oil Dispute With Belarus

Part of the Baltic Pipeline System oil pipeline in Russia
Part of the Baltic Pipeline System oil pipeline in Russia
KYIV -- An adviser to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko says Kyiv hopes Russia and Belarus quickly resolve their oil dispute, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Bohdan Sokolovsky, Yushchenko's adviser on energy security, told RFE/RL that he does not consider the Russian-Belarusian row over oil prices and transport duties a conflict but rather “unfinished talks." He said Ukraine will benefit from a fast settlement of the standoff.

Sokolovsky added that he believes Russia is depleting its oil reserves in the European part of the country and thus may be unable to fulfill its future contractual obligations.

He said this could be the main reason that Russia is "acting a bit nervously, to put it mildly," in the dispute with Belarus.

Sokolovsky said Ukraine's oil transport network does not have the capacity to replace Belarusian oil transit services to Western Europe.

Russia halted its oil supplies to Belarusian refineries on January 1 after the two countries failed to agree on prices and transfer fees for 2010. It resumed the oil flow on January 4 and European markets were unaffected by the cutoff.

Despite the resumption of oil deliveries, Minsk and Moscow have not agreed on prices or tariffs for this year and continue to hold talks.