Belarus started importing oil from Norway on Tuesday after Russia, its main oil provider, suspended supplies earlier this month amid stalled talks on further strengthening economic ties between two countries, Belsat reports.
Belarusian state-run oil company Belneftekhim said its subsidiary bought 80,000 tons of crude oil from Norway, which is expected to be delivered to the country’s refineries via rail in the next few days.
Importing oil from alternative sources is more expensive for Belarus than cheap Russian supplies. But Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko sees it as an important message for the Kremlin, Valery Karbalevich, a political analyst from the Minsk-based think tank Strategia, told The Associated Press.
“Lukashenko is sending a clear signal to the Kremlin that he is ready to tighten his belt, but isn’t ready to become a Russian governor,” Karbalevich said.
Russia stopped supplying oil to its post-Soviet neighbor after Dec. 31. The two nations had failed to renegotiate an agreed oil price for this year during drawn-out negotiations on deepening the integration of their economies.
The Russian suspension did not affect oil crossing Belarus to Europe or the supply of natural gas but had consequences for Belarus, which relies on Russia for more than 80% of its overall energy needs.