The search for alternative oil supplies is "not a bluff" and not a way to raise the stakes before negotiations with Russia, said President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, as quoted by BelTA.
According to Lukashenko, in a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he outlined a picture of how Belarus will act if the Russian side does not change its position. The Belarusian leader listed options for alternative oil supply to the country. According to him, it is the supply of Norwegian oil through Baltic ports, the route from Gdansk using one of the lines of the Druzhba oil pipeline and deliveries through Ukraine from the Black Sea.
Lukashenko called oil from Russia "the fourth option." "We are not giving up this oil. But in this way, there will be diversification of supplies," he said.
According to Lukashenko, Belarus has already started testing new routes to see "what will actually happen" and what the losses will be. Lukashenko added that Belarus also looking into the oil supplies from the United States, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. He noted that these countries are ready to supply oil at the "market price", but their quality of oil is better.
The contract for the supply of Russian oil to Belarus expired on January 1. The parties failed to conclude a new agreement. The dispute between Minsk and Moscow is related to the price of oil. Belarus insists on supplies at the Russian domestic price. In December, after unsuccessful negotiations on a long-term contract, Lukashenko instructed Belarusian officials to look for alternative sources of oil. On January 20, it was reported that Belarus purchased 80,000 tons of oil from Norway.