Interview with Kirill Maltsev
Russia Today: Could you tell us why has it got to this? Why has it come to this final round of talks and disputes? Why exactly did Belarus not pay what it owed?
Kirill Maltsev: Actually it is a difficult question. I think that Belarus did not pay in July just because maybe President Lukashenko wanted to see the reaction of the Russian Federation to it. The economic situation in Belarus is now very difficult. Belarus has a big trade deficit, around $US 800 MLN and the total state reserves are around $US 3 BLN. So, half a billion dollars is really a big amount for this country. And maybe the Belarusian President just wanted to check the reaction of the Russian Federation and Gazprom.
RT: But in reality, do you think they will have been able to pay off this debt on their own as we appear to be seeing at the moment?
K.M.: No, I think they will pay it and you have seen today they paid $US 190 MLN and I think that they will do it. My opinion is it was just a check from the Belarusian side and maybe it was done in a hope that Russia will not make any steps before the Presidential elections.
RT: Sergey Kupriyanov, the Gazprom spokesperson, has at least assured that there is a week deadline. Do you think a week deadline will stand? A week until the final deadline for the full payment is expected. Do you think that this is the firm date?
K.M.: I do think so. Gazprom knows that the Belarusian state has money to pay it and I think that Gazprom is very serious in this stance.
RT: Now are there any winners in this kind of disputes? Do you feel that there is going to be any kind of long-term consequences of this dispute between two nations that at least are quite close to each other?
K.M.: I think that in such disputes there are neither winners nor losers. I think it is not the end because we have to check it by the end of the year and I think that the price for the gas will probably change on the side of Gazprom, it will be higher for Belarus also. So I think it is not the last difficulty for Belarus.
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