The end of the “brotherly trust”

Belarus-Russia Relations in the storm
The end of the “brotherly trust”
27 March 19:24 2019 Print This Article

In just one month, Belarus and Russia have gone from a three-day amicable meeting between their presidents in Sochi to a new flare-up in tensions. The Belarussian Foreign Ministry has accused the Russian ambassador in Minsk, Mikhail Babich, of being unable to distinguish an independent state from a Russian federal district, prompting a similarly outraged response from the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Babich is the first Russian ambassador in a decade to openly meet with representatives of the Belarussian opposition, which, given the tension in relations, looked a little backhanded. He has also given a series of extensive interviews to Russian media in which he has systematically rejected all of Minsk’s most recent complaints about Russia, and instead voiced his own discontent with Belarus.

Belarus is losing billions of dollars in budget revenue as a result of Russia’s new energy tax system, which shifts the tax burden on oil products from their export to extraction. Minsk, which previously bought duty-free crude oil from Russia under their customs union and then re-exported it at a profit, claims that the new system violates the terms of the Eurasian Economic Union. Moscow, for its part, has adopted a fundamentally new position and has proposed deeper integration via the union state that the two countries entered into in the 1990s.

Minsk and Moscow’s dispute over oil and integration is very real and will not go away any time soon.

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