On 21 May the Russian press, citing sources within Gazprom, stated that Belarus is behind on its payments for Russian gas to the tune of US$137mn for the first quarter of this year. This debt results from the fact that Belarus is still paying off its arrears at last year’s price, which is lower than the one currently applicable. As a result, towards the end of this year, Minsk will be faced with the need to pay a significant debt; this could be an additional instrument to strengthen pressure from the Kremlin, which aims to take control over strategic economic assets in.
The large number of possible post-electoral configurations will make negotiations on the formation of the government more difficult. Talks will probably be protracted and offer an opportunity for President Vaclav Klaus to be actively engaged.
Moscow’s actions during the Iran crisis are a sign of its efforts to provide political support to Barack Obama’s administration. Moscow recognises that Obama’s policy can bring it specific benefits, and so it is endeavouring to ensure the policy’s continuation. in expectation of further political and economic gains.