Belarus denies link between oil pipe closure and Russia's meat ban

MINSK, July 22 (RIA Novosti) - Belarus on Wednesday denied any link between the suspension of the Belarusian section of a petroleum pipeline from Russia to Latvia and Russia's ban on meat imports from Belarus.

Russia's veterinary watchdog announced on Tuesday a temporary ban on meat supplies from two Belarusian meat plants over the alleged presence of harmful substances. Meanwhile, Belarus temporarily suspended on Wednesday the Belarusian section of the Unecha-Ventspils oil product pipeline, citing its unsatisfactory technical condition.

"It has been a surprise for us that some Internet sources linked the ban on the operation of the petroleum product pipeline with the ban on the delivery of meat products by two Belarusian meat plants to Russia. This is illogical," said Vitaly Novitsky, a spokesman for the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry.

Novitsky said that the ban imposed by the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry did not come as a surprise for the Russian owners of the pipeline section, adding that its further operation could have caused accidents and damage to the environment.

Russia and Belarus were earlier embroiled in a milk row after Moscow imposed a ban on Belarusian dairy supplies, which bring the country $1 billion in annual revenue, claiming Belarus had failed to comply with new regulations despite repeated warnings. In response, Belarus briefly imposed tough customs controls on border crossings with Russia.



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