Mixed response to Iranian sanctions. The countries that will be affected by Washington’s decision not to extend sanction waivers to importers of Iranian oil have responded in different ways. The current exemptions, which will expire May 2, cover India, China, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Taiwan, Italy and Greece. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Iranian oil accounts for only 3 percent of imports and that the country expects minimal to no impact from Washington’s decision. Italian oil and gas firm ENI said it has already stopped importing oil from Iran, so it too expects few repercussions from the move. India, however, will be more adversely affected as the government there had anticipated that the waivers would be extended. Indian refiners imported 8 million barrels of oil from Iran in April, just under the 9 million barrels per month it was allowed to purchase under the waiver. The Indian government has yet to issue an official reaction, but a high-ranking U.S. State Department official will arrive in India today in part to reassure the U.S. ally.

Poor-quality Russian oil in Belarus. Belarus has suspended exports of light oil products to Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states because of low-quality Russian oil processed at Belarusian refineries. The deputy chairman of Belarusian petrochemical firm Belneftekhim said the company had received reports of low-quality oil reaching the European Union and Ukraine. There have also been reports that Russian oil damaged equipment at an oil refinery in the Belarusian city of Mazyr. Russia’s Energy Ministry acknowledged the drop in oil quality, claimed it was a technical problem and said measures have already been put in place to correct it. On Tuesday, representatives from Belneftekhim will meet with Russian oil pipeline operator Transneft to discuss the quality issues and potential solutions. Belarus hopes to find alternative oil suppliers and import oil through ports in the Baltic states and Ukraine by the end of 2019. The deputy director of the Belarusian Oil Company has said the country’s refineries can process oil from Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and a number of other countries.

Pressure mounts on the Kyrgyz government. Hundreds of opposition supporters held a rally outside the Supreme Court in Bishkek on Tuesday to call for the release of prominent opposition figure Omurbek Tekebayev, who was jailed on corruption charges two years ago, just two months before a presidential election in which he planned to run. A smaller protest was held nearby calling for the release of another political prisoner and former member of parliament. Separately, a small group of members from the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan protested outside the Justice Ministry yesterday and called for the justice minister’s resignation after the name of the party leader was changed in its official registration. The government has responded so far reportedly by increasing police presence. Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev also suspended work on a uranium mine in the Issyk-Kul region after protesters called for the project to be closed because of environmental concerns.

Honorable Mentions