Russian president Dmitri Medvedev asked gas state company Gazprom to cut gas exports to Belarus because Minsk has outstanding debts at this chapter, a Kremlin communique, Reuters informs.
Meanwhile, Ria Novosti news agency informs, quoting Gazprom chief Alexei Miller, that the cut out was going to be gradual, the Russian agency says.
The Russian President sent an ultimatum to Belarus last Tuesday, giving it five more days to pay off its debt to the Russian gas. "We give our colleagues five days for them to decide how they are going to continue", Medvedev declared during a meeting with Gazprom chief Aleksei Miller. If this is not going to be carried out, then we'll go on to take severe measures", the Russian President insisted.
According to Gazprom, Minsk to pay Moscow back 200 million dollars for gas delivered since the beginning of the year. Gazprom claims that Belarus pays only 150 dollars per 1,000 cube meters when the Russian company's bill is 169 20 dollars for the same quantity for the first quarter and 184 80 in the second.
The Russian gas giant is often dealing with payments delays from Belarus, a country Russia threatened several times within the last years to cut its deliveries if it fails to pay.
The energy relations between Moscow and Minsk, but also between Moscow and Kiev are followed closely by Gazprom European neighbours, which fear delivery cuts. 20% of EU gas supplies pass through Belarus and the rest, through Ukraine.
In 2009, a dispute with Ukraine led to a block in gas transport to Kiev, leading to a gas crisis that affected many European countries. Europe remains strongly dependent on the Moscow supplies.