Expatica news

Lithuania, Poland offer to help Belarus ease off Russian oil: PM

EU and NATO members Lithuania and Poland on Tuesday said they were willing to help neighbouring Belarus ease its heavy dependence on Russian oil, amid initial moves by Minsk to warm frosty ties with the West.

“We spoke about how to reduce Belarus energy dependence on Russia. Certain solutions and projects were discussed,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis told reporters in Vilnius.

Skvernelis, speaking at a joint press conference with visiting Polish Premier Mateusz Morawiecki, said talks focused on using Lithuania’s infrastructure and certain companies to diversify supplies.

Poland’s PKN Orlen owns a refinery in the northern Lithuanian town of Mazeikiai.

Belarussian strongman President Alexander Lukashenko said earlier this month he was considering importing oil in cooperation with Poland and the Baltic states should he fail to clinch a deal with Russia.

His remarks came as neighbouring Ukraine moved to ease its heavy reliance on Russian energy supplies by signing its first agreement to import US liquefied natural gas (LNG) via Poland.

Lithuania and Poland are concerned that Russia may use fuel subsidies and loans to pull Belarus further into its political orbit.

Often dubbed “Europe’s last dictatorship”, Belarus has been close to Moscow but otherwise largely isolated by the international community.

However, last month Lukashenko said he was looking to open a “new chapter” in ties with the United States as he welcomed the then White House national security advisor John Bolton for rare talks in Minsk.