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Russia's Oil Salvo Prompts Belarus to Explore Its Options

Feb 6, 2020 | 10:30 GMT
A monument depicts an oil pipeline near the Mozyr linear production dispatching station in Belarus on Jan. 4, 2020.

A monument depicts an oil pipeline in Belarus. Russia halted its oil supplies to Belarusian refineries on Jan. 1 because of an ongoing standoff between the two neighbors.

(NATALIA FEDOSENKO\TASS via Getty Images)

Fearing the loss of its last ally in Eastern Europe, Russia has weaponized its crucial oil exports to force Belarus into accepting a level of integration that would effectively guarantee its allegiance. But Belarus has rejected Russia's proposals, knowing that the kind of economic and political synthesis Moscow is demanding would severely restrict its ability to pursue opportunities with Europe and the United States. To bring Belarus to heel, Russia moved to cut off the country's oil supply on Jan. 1, which has since only pushed Minsk to seek out new foreign suppliers. But Belarus' push to diversify its oil ties will likely be short-lived, as permanently severing its trade ties with Russia would require a significant overhaul of its already fragile economy....

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