MINSK, BELARUS (AP) — United States (US) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday that the US is willing and able to provide Belarus with 100 per cent of its oil and gas, taking a slap at Russia which recently cut off supplies.
Pompeo is the first secretary of state to visit Belarus in 26 years and arrived in Minsk amid new tensions between Minsk and Moscow over energy. In a meeting with authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, Pompeo said he hoped to help provide an opportunity for Belarus to achieve the “sovereignty” and “independence” it seeks.
“The United States wants to help Belarus build its own sovereign country,” Pompeo said at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei.
“Our energy producers stand ready to deliver 100 per cent of the oil you need at competitive prices. We’re the biggest energy producer in the world and all you have to do is call us.”
Belarus fears Russia is trying to absorb it and last month began purchasing gas from Norway after Russian supplies were cut off. Last week, Lukashenko accused Russia, the country’s main provider of cheap oil and gas, of stopping supplies “to dissolve Belarus”.
Pompeo said the US wants to help fill the vacuum and will continue to boost staffing at its embassy in Minsk, which was severely reduced 12 years ago when the US imposed significant sanctions on the country over human rights abuses.