Published On: Sun, Jun 28th, 2009

Russia to keep cheap energy supplies to Belarus: Putin

Russia will continue to maintain cheap energy supplies to Belarus in the near future to support its economy, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Sunday.

“For the near future we intend to continue this, while bearing in mind the tendency toward switching to world price levels for hydrocarbons,” Putin was quoted as telling leaders of political groups in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

Belarus buys Russian oil and gas at the lowest prices in the Commonwealth of Independent States, said Putin.

Recently, Russia and Belarus have been locked in several economic and trade disputes.

Russia’s gas giant Gazprom on Friday demanded Belarus pay 244 million U.S. dollars within July for gas supplied since the start of this year.

Gazprom chief Alexei Miller said the company may “take court actions or even reduce supplies,” the Interfax news agency reported.

The debt is due to differences between contract and average prices, said the RIA Novosti news agency.

Earlier, Russia’s short-lived controversial ban on Belarussian dairy products triggered Minsk’s boycott of a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization in Moscow on June 14.