Belarus is an independent republic in the Commonwealth of Independent States. It is a major oil transit country and also has significant gas transit assets. The main line of the Druzhba oil pipeline runs through Belarus; as well as the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline. Russian companies own or have been seeking to gain greater control of all these assets. Approximately 20% of Russian gas exports to Central and Western Europe flow through Belarus. The volume of oil flowing through Belarus has fluctuated significantly in recent years.
Belarus has an industrialised economy, dependent on imports of energy and raw materials. Unlike most former Soviet republics, Belarus has not gone through a radical transformation toward a market economy. Initial attempts at large scale privatisation were mostly halted in the mid-1990s, so few firms have been privatised. This spared the economy the shock and massive decline in income that Ukraine, Russia and other neighbours faced, but it resulted in an economy that attracts little foreign investment today.
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