Russia`s economy will lose some $3.3 billion over natural gas agreements with Belarus, including $1.3 billion in losses for the state budget and $2 billion for Gazprom, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday, according to RIA Novosti.
"That is the price Russia will have to pay for a transition to market relations," he said, adding it is also direct support for "our Belarusian colleagues."
He said he hopes the agreements will be honored both by the Russian and Belarusian sides, with a clear understanding of what Russia is doing to support the Belarusian economy.
Russia and Belarus have been embroiled in an energy dispute since Moscow doubled the natural gas price for Belarus to $100 per 1,000 cubic meters as of January 1 and raised the oil export duty to $180.7 per metric ton.
Belarus retaliated January 3 by slapping an oil transit fee of $45 per metric ton for crude crossing its territory.
A Belarusian delegation led by First Deputy Economy Minister Vladimir Naidunov arrived in Moscow Tuesday in a bid to resume talks. But Russian Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Sharonov said Monday that talks would begin only after Minsk annulled the transit fee.
The standoff with Belarus resembles last year`s energy dispute with Ukraine, when Russia suspended gas shipments to Ukraine amid a price row, a move that affected consumers in Western Europe. Ukraine later admitted to siphoning off Russia`s Europe-bound gas.
Commenting on the current situation with Russian energy supplies, Germany`s Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany needs to form an energy mix to avoid dependence on energy imports.
"Suspended crude deliveries remind us again of the need to diversify our energy sources," she said. "We must not depend on just one [supplier] nation."