Belarus hits Russia with oil tax

Baltic Sea gas pipeline in Russia

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: Oil coming from Russia into Europe will face a new tax as it goes through Belarus. The president of Belarus is imposing this tax as retaliation for Russia jacking up natural gas prices. More now from Stefan Bos.


STEFAN BOS: Over the weekend Belarus was forced to agreed to pay twice as much for natural gas as it did before. Now there is a quarrel over oil.

Belarus imposes big taxes on Russian crude pumped through its pipelines to costumers in Europe. Minsk says it will charge a whopping $45 per ton of Russian oil. The move is expected to cause short-term disruption to refiners in countries like Germany.

Marshall Goldman, a Russia expert with Harvard University, says he is not surprised that Russia raised prices. He says Russia has more leverage because Asia needs energy as well.

MARSHALL GOLDMAN: Russia now finds itself with a very valuable commodity that brings it money, that brings it power, that brings it prestige, that brings it leverage that it didn't have before. And so now it's in a position to be very assertive.

Human rights groups say Belarus needs the money from the taxes to prop up the autocratic regime of Lukshenko, described by the United States "as the last dictatorship in Europe."

For Marketplace, I am Stefan Bos in Budapest.

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