Russia decided to decrease its gas supplies to Belarus by 50 percent effective November 1, 2002, the Izvestia newspaper reported. The cause of this decision is that the volume of gas exports to Belarus totaling 10.2bn cubic meters, which was stipulated by earlier agreements, has been completed. Minsk believes that this is a political decision and Belarusian officials intend to discuss this situation on a political level. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry considers this decision as a deliberate action aimed at imposing economic pressure on Minsk, which can bring serious harm to the union of the two states. However, this decision should not be treated as absolutely unexpected by Belarus. Two thirds of Russian gas exports to Belarus are supplied by Gazprom at the cost which is practically the same as the production and transportation cost. Gazprom sells its gas at $24 for every one thousand cubic meters of gas. At the same time only 10 percent is paid off in cash money; the rest is in barter deals.
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