Russia - Belarus oil row rumbles on

Moscow and Minsk failed to find an agreement over a dispute on energy costs, said Belarussian state news agency Belta. There are fears that the stalemate could affect Europe's energy supply as Belarussia is a key transit country for Russian oil.


AFP - Russia and Belarus broke off talks on new oil supply terms without agreement on Thursday, according to a source quoted by Belarussian state news agency Belta.

Moscow and Minsk failed to agree terms for 2010 on New Year's Eve, and fears have been raised that supplies to Europe could be affected, as Belarussia is a key transit country for Russian oil.

Talks began on Saturday led on the Russian side by Igor Sechin, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's powerful deputy and energy czar, but they have yet to reach agreement.

"The Russian and Belarussian experts have not managed to bring together the two parties' positions on the delivery of Russian oil to Belarussia," the Belarussian source told Belta.

"Both sides have therefore decided to have a break in negotiations to allow more consultation," the source added.

A Russian source quoted by Russian agency Interfax said the talks would resume on Friday.

Similar disagreements between Russia and the neighbouring countries of Belarus and Ukraine -- both former Soviet republics -- regularly threaten Europe's energy supplies.

In January 2007 a dispute between Moscow and Minsk led to the brief closure of a pipeline through Belarus which carries around a third of Russia's total oil exports to Europe.

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