Moscow signals economic shift?

MOSCOW, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- It wasn't clear whether Russia settled its oil dispute with Belarus though Moscow said it was time to diversify the economy away from hydrocarbons.

Russian oil companies halted shipments to Belarus at the beginning of the year until new contracts were signed between the two countries.

Russian pipeline company Transneft announced that oil deliveries to Belarus resumed, though oil supplier LUKoil declared it had no knowledge that a new deal that would open the spigot had been signed, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.

Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich discussed energy issues with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin last week during a working visit to Moscow.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, meanwhile, told Russia's daily business newspaper Vedomosti that opportunities for a resource-driven economy "have been exhausted for this country."

His comments follow a deal with Minsk to start building a nuclear power plant in Belarus in September. A formal bilateral agreement is on the agenda for February meetings with Belarusian officials, RIA Novosti adds.

Minsk said it would look to foreign shores if Moscow doesn't back the project.

The first reactor could go into service as early as 2016 with a second reactor in place by 2018.


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