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Belarusian PM Optimistic After Talks With Russian Counterpart Over Oil Prices

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin (left) greets his Belarusian counterpart, Syarhey Rumas, in Moscow on March 11.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin (left) greets his Belarusian counterpart, Syarhey Rumas, in Moscow on March 11.

Belarusian Prime Minister Syarhey Rumas says a sharp drop in oil prices has opened room for Minsk to reach an agreement with Moscow over supplies.

Speaking after a meeting on March 11 with Russian counterpart Mikhail Mishustin, Rumas said he was satisfied with the discussions and that the issue will be resolved in the near future.

"In recent days, the situation [in the oil industry] has changed and oil prices have decreased. Due to that, Belarus presented a new proposal for [Russian] oil companies, which the Russian side accepted and said it will discuss with the oil companies in the coming days," Rumas said in a video his spokeswoman, Alyaksandra Isayeva, placed on her Facebook account.

In the video, Rumas answers a journalist’s questions.

Belarus, heavily reliant on Russia for cheap oil and billions in annual subsidies to prop up its Soviet-era economy, has been at odds with Moscow over oil prices for months.

The dispute over Russian oil supplies is part of wider political discord between the two countries over forming a union state.

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has been in power in Belarus for more than 25 years, has faced growing pressure from Moscow in recent years to agree to deeper integration under a 1999 unification agreement, which envisaged close political, economic, and military ties but stopped short of forming a single country.

Rumas's visit to Moscow to discuss the issue came two days after oil prices plunged following Saudi Arabia's move to enact the biggest cut in oil prices in two decades.

The Saudi move on March 8 came after OPEC and its allies failed to reach a deal to reduce oil production.

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