MOSCOW, June 18 (UPI) -- Russia's Gazprom is prepared to reduce its natural gas supplies to Belarus by 85 percent beginning Monday if Minsk does not pay its outstanding bills.
Gazprom's spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov told reporters in Moscow, "Today a corresponding instruction of the operational headquarters has been signed. The reduction of supply by 85 percent may start as from 10 o'clock in the morning (Monday), when the balance sheet from the previous 24 hours is closed. This will require certain technological work from us," Itar-Tass reported on Friday.
Despite the threat to diminish supplies, Kupriyanov insisted without going into details that Gazprom would fulfill its commitments to natural gas deliveries to Western Europe even if it cuts gas supply to Belarus.
"We shall deliver export supply (to Western Europe) in the previous volume," he said, evidently by utilizing alternative pipeline routes through Ukraine, where the Druzhba pipeline remains Gazprom's largest export pipeline for exports to Eastern, Central and Western Europe.