Russia Refuses to Pay Belarus $310mn in Compensations after Oil Tax Maneuver

Russia has refused a request from Belarus for compensation for Moscow’s tax maneuver in the oil sector, the First Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Igor Lyashenko has said, according to Reuters.

Lyashenko previously said Belarus expects the compensation claim to amount to around $310 million in 2019, according to TASS.

Minsk would like to receive a compensation from Moscow “precisely worth the tax maneuver, which has been estimated at around $310-315 million,” he said.

The settlement of trade disputes between Russia and Belarus are causing rare political friction between the two neighboring countries which have traditionally had harmonious relations. Earlier on Friday, long-time Belarusian president President Alexander Lukashenko raised concern that Russia is thinking about a takeover of his country, because it has offered to resolve economic disputes with Belarus if it agreed to deeper political integration.

“I understand those hints: here’s your oil, but you must destroy your country and join Russia,” Lukashenko told a news conference with Russian journalists in Minsk on Friday. Some officials in Moscow “say directly” that they want to incorporate Belarus into Russia in return for financial assistance, he said, according to Bloomberg.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday that Moscow’s ready to offer economic benefits if Belarus fulfils the terms of a 1999 agreement to form a union state that was signed by Lukashenko and the then President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin. The agreement envisions Belarus and Russia gradually forming a single state with a unified legal system, joint foreign and defense policy, and common currency.