Top Russian Official Rejects Belarus Pipeline Offer Amid Deepening Rift

A top Russian official today rejected Belarus's proposal to give Moscow control of the country's gas-pipeline network and a top oil refinery in return for cheaper energy supplies.

Igor Sechin, a deputy prime minister in charge of energy, said Russia had "no great economic interest" in the offer made by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on May 27.

The Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom already owns 50 percent of Belarus's pipeline operator, Beltransgaz, which carries some of Russia's gas exports to Europe.

Belarus has been asking Russia to provide it with cheap oil and gas as part of a customs-union deal to take force on July 1, but Moscow says Minsk has been underpaying for Russian energy.

Belarusian Prime Minister Syarhey Sidorski today canceled a planned trip to Russia to discuss the customs union.


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