Russia gains control of gas pipelines in Belarus
In a move to project political power through energy policy, Moscow has bought up the gas pipeline system in Belarus, bringing Minsk deeper into its orbit and securing more control over EU energy imports.
Russia’s state-run energy giant, Gazprom, purchased the gas pipeline system in neighboring Belarus on Friday, providing Moscow with more control over the transit routes that run to its primary energy customer, the European Union.
Belarus, an authoritarian state in eastern Europe, currently faces its most severe economic crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Until now, long-time President Alexander Lukashenko had been wary to cut an energy deal with Moscow out of concern for Belarusian national sovereignty. Gazprom already owned half of the pipeline system.
In exchange for ceding full control of its pipeline system for $2.5 billion (1.89 billion euros), Belarus is set to receive gas from Russia at a significantly reduced price, paying 40 percent less in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the third quarter of 2011. That could help alleviate the pressure on an economy which has experienced a 65 percent devaluation of its currency and runaway inflation. (via Deutsche Welle)
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