Belarus to seek alternatives to Russian energy

MOSCOW, June 28 (Xinhua) -- Belarus will seek alternatives to Russian energy supplies, but there will be no trade war between Minsk and Moscow, said the country's leader Alexander Lukashenko Monday.

"We are buying and will buy energy carriers from Russia. No one will fully replace Russia in this respect, but we will be gradually seeking an alternative," Lukashenko said, adding that this year Belarus will import four million tons of oil from Venezuela, and 10 million tons next year.

"We have to follow this path as well as working on the issues of supplying cheap natural gas and other energy carriers to Belarus," he said at a meeting with state officials as cited by the RIA Novosti news agency.

Earlier this month, Belarus and Russian energy giant Gazprom were involved in a dispute over Belarus' refusal to pay Russian- set prices for gas with Gazprom slashing deliveries and Minsk threatening to suspend European transit supplies.

The fees Gazprom pays for transit to its Belarus counterpart Beltransgaz became the last stumbling block in the conflict. Beltransgaz CEO Vladimir Mayorov said Monday his company and Gazprom have finalized a supplementary agreement to a gas transit contract and may sign it later this week.

"No one should proceed from the assumption that we should start an economic war with Russia. This is our long-time traditional partner," Lukashenko noted.

"If today the Russian leadership took this position, they probably have grounds for that, and we criticize them but have to understand them," he said.


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