Belarus cuts gas supply and affects EU

– Belarus cut on Tuesday Russian gas transfers to Europe amid a dispute over debts with Moscow, while the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko spoke of a “gas war” recalling the dispute between the two countries in 2009.

The European Union said that Lithuania, Poland and Germany were affected by the outage, although Russia did not confirm that gas levels leaving Belarus had dminished.

Russia, the world’s leading exporter of energy, supplies 25 percent of Europe’s gas needs. Four fifths of this volume flows through Ukraine and a fifth part through Belarus.

Ukraine has already promised to ship more Russian gas to Europe to help Moscow cover a potential gap, a move that shows Kiev’s commitment to improve relations with Russia and persuade them not to build new pipelines bypassing them.

“This is a very bad signal for our citizens,” the president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, told Reuters after a meeting with Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko in Moscow.

“The early warning mechanism between Russia and the European Union did not work this time,” said Buzek to Shmatko.

The leader of the European Parliament said that Lithuania, Poland and East Germany reported a decrease in supplies.

Shmatko said Russia warned the European Union about potential disruptions in supplies of gas and so far Polish companies have not reported a drop in pressure in gas pipelines.

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom says Belarus has accumulated a debt of $ 192 million for gas deliveries since January and on Tuesday reduced the transfer to 70 percent of the normal volume, more than doubling a cut of 15 per cent on Monday.

On the other hand Belarus complains that Gazprom owes them $ 260 million in gas supplies, although the company says that Minsk has blocked the payments.

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