News / Economy

Russia Threatens Belarus with Oil Supply Cuts

FILE - Vladislav Baumgertner, chief executive of the world’s largest producer of potash, Russia’s Uralkali, in Moscow, undated photo.
FILE - Vladislav Baumgertner, chief executive of the world’s largest producer of potash, Russia’s Uralkali, in Moscow, undated photo.
Reuters
Tension between Russia and Belarus rose on Thursday as Moscow warned oil supply cuts to its energy-poor neighbor could last for months, and Minsk threatened to open a criminal case against a Russian tycoon with Kremlin ties.
 
The close but often rocky relationship between the ex-Soviet states hit a major bump this week when Vladislav Baumgertner, the chief executive of potash company Uralkali, was arrested in Minsk.
 
On Wednesday, Russia ordered its oil companies to cut supplies to Belarus by about 25 percent, prompting talk of a trade war. Belarus relies entirely on Russian oil to keep its two major refineries running to supply the local market.
 
Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft said on Wednesday Russia would cut oil supplies to Belarus by 400,000 tons in September due to maintenance work at the trunk pipeline.
 
On Thursday, Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich as saying Belarus would receive reduced volumes of oil in the fourth quarter, indicating the cuts would carry on long past September.
 
"On the basis of planned oil deliveries for 2013 and on the volumes which already have been shipped, the cuts in oil supplies will surely affect the fourth quarter," the government press service cited Dvorkovich as saying, according to Interfax.
 
In Belarus, state investigators raised the prospect of also prosecuting billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, the top shareholder in Uralkali, which controls 20 percent of the world potash market.
 
"The materials that the Investigative Committee of Belarus possesses do not rule out the possibility of opening a criminal case in relation to Suleiman Kerimov, as well as other individuals," committee representative Pavel Traulko said.
 
An attempt to take on Kerimov, who was reported to be in Russia, would raise the stakes in the standoff, which unfolded following Uralkali's decision to break away from a marketing venture between the company and state-owned Belaruskali.
 
Kerimov, a 47-year-old native of the Caucasus province of Dagestan in southern Russia, has close ties to President Vladimir Putin's administration and completed a Kremlin-backed Russian potash merger in 2011.
 
The world market for potash has long been dominated by a handful of players led by the Belarusian Potash Co. (BPC), a marketing venture between Uralkali and Belaruskali.
 
BPC and Canpotex, which groups North American firms Potash Corp, Agrium and Mosaic, together have controlled 70 percent of sales.
 
But Uralkali quit the cartel on July 30, angered by a law passed in Belarus last year that allowed Belaruskali to sell product outside the marketing venture.
 
Belarus relies on Russia not only for energy but also for economic handouts and as a counterweight to the European Union and the United States, which shun President Alexander Lukashenko because of his treatment of opponents and lack of tolerance for dissent.
 
For Russia, landlocked Belarus serves as a buffer with NATO, and Putin needs it as a member of economic and security alliances as he seeks closer integration among the nations of the former Soviet Union.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9012
JPY
USD
122.90
GBP
USD
0.6400
CAD
USD
1.2582
INR
USD
63.438

Rates may not be current.