21 Feb 2022 15:40

Belarus yet to reach final decision on cargo terminals in Leningrad region - authorities

ST. PETERSBURG. Feb 21 (Interfax) - Belarus has yet to reach a final decision on the construction of cargo terminals at the Primorsk port in Russia's Leningrad region, the press service of the Russian region's governor and government told Interfax.

"There have been no decisions yet on the Belarusian behalf regarding the terminals," the press office said, adding that questions regarding the location of terminals, their capacity and the start of construction were so far premature.

"We have to wait for decisions by Belarus," it said.

The Leningrad regional authorities proposed last week that Belarus consider building terminals to handle Belarusian cargo at the Baltic port in Primorsk.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has given instructions to start building with immediate effect a terminal near St. Petersburg to handle Belarusian cargo, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said at a press conference following talks with Putin on Friday.

"We held specific discussions about some topics, particularly important ones. For example, you mentioned potash fertilizers. I am grateful to Vladimir Vladimirovich for giving the direct instruction, as I asked: we need a port (...) The president gave the order, I asked him for the Russians to help us, so that there is no red tape or bureaucracy - it's not a question of money, there is money for this - so that we can build our own port near St. Petersburg and transship millions of tonnes of cargo there," Lukashenko said.

"In my presence, orders were given to begin this construction immediately, and we will ship these millions of tonnes within a year - 18 months, I don't know how long," he said.

"But if we leave Ukraine and Lithuania, we won't go back there," he said.

In light of U.S. sanctions against Belarusian potash producer Belaruskali, Lithuanian Railways terminated its transit contract with the company on February 1 by decision of the Lithuanian government and stopped shipping the company's potash fertilizer. The contract, which was signed in 2018 and was supposed to run to 2023, called for 11 million tonnes of Belarusian potash per year to be shipped through Lithuania by train and loaded onto ships at the Klaipeda port.

Ukrainian Railways introduced temporary restrictions on transit of Belarusian potash fertilizer through Ukraine on February 16. The restrictions apply to the products of Belaruskali and Belarusian Potash Company and concern railway transit shipments to Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, the CIS and the Baltic countries. Fertilizer imports into Ukraine by rail were also prohibited.

Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko said on Thursday that potash fertilizer shipments through Ukraine are continuing and work is underway with Russia to redirect transit shipments.

Belarus redirected some petroleum product exports to Russian ports instead of Lithuania and Latvia in the spring of last year amid western sanctions.

Primorsk is the largest port in northwest Russia for handling crude oil and oil products. Spetspmornefteport Primorsk LLC, Primorsk Trade Port LLC and BaltTransServis LLC operate at the port.