According to many reports, energy and the associated Russian tax maneuvers are the sole points of contention between Russian and Belarus. According to the same Jamestown report, the issues were resolved in September 2018.
According to TASS:
Moscow and Minsk have been negotiating the mechanism of compensating the shortfall in budget revenues due to Russia’s tax maneuver in the oil sector that envisions a gradual slash of export duties on oil and petroleum products to zero for the Belarusian side since the beginning of November. Minsk confirms president’s plans to visit Moscow on December 25
This has caused a huge trade deficit for Belarus, hence the focus.
The issue of a de facto Russian takeover has been talked about lately, but Belarus is desperately trying to remain neutral. According to the same report, it is all up to the Kremlin.
“We see that Russia just does not want to comply with international standards. And all European countries start to realize that the case is the aggressor which will yield only under power pressure,” Macierewicz said.
While the West and Russia are flexing muscles, the Belarusian authorities will continue to cling to a relatively neutral position, experts say. However, Lukashenka’s room for multi-vector manoeuvre is growing narrow.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will take an official visit to Moscow on December 25 for talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin attended by members of the two countries’ governments, Presidential spokeswoman Natalya Eismont told TASS on Saturday.
“Belarusian President’s visit to Moscow is planned for December 25 for talks with Russian President to be attended by members of the governments,” she said.
“The talks will focus on the most pressing issues of our cooperation,” she added.
President of Belarus said earlier that the tax maneuver in Russia’s oil sector would be the key issue of his meeting with Vladimir Putin. Moscow and Minsk have been negotiating the mechanism of compensating the shortfall in budget revenues due to Russia’s tax maneuver in the oil sector that envisions a gradual slash of export duties on oil and petroleum products to zero for the Belarusian side since the beginning of November. Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Lyashenko said earlier this week that the losses of two Belarusian oil refining plants and the country’s budget from Russia’s tax maneuver would total $383 mln with the oil price of $70 per barrel in 2019.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier that the leaders of the two countries would discuss a number of “issues of bilateral relations considered as disputable, regarding which a serious progress was made at a recent meeting in Sochi” at the upcoming talks.