by Sandy Winterfield
This has been the headlines in Belarus lately as Gazprom, Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly has decided to cut supplies over its debt. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned Belarus that unless it paid off its gas debts within five days, it would face cuts.
Belarus owes an amount of $200m (?134m; 160m euros). About 1/5 of Russia's gas supply is being pumped to Belarus. It would be starting to cut gas supplies by 15% on Monday, and gradually increases it to more than 80% if there is no breakthrough in the countries' continuing negotiations.
Gas supplies will be reduced "day-by-day, proportionally to the debt's volume", Gazprom's chief executive Alexei Miller said, according to Ria Novosti news agency. via BBC News.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said his country owed nothing to Gazprom, but would settle any disagreement. Mr Lukashenko says prices should have remained the same as part of the forthcoming customs union deal. Belarus wants to settle any outstanding debt based on last year's lower prices.
Belarus mainly depends on Russia when it comes to energy. This is also the issue which has caused tension between the two countries. Russia has been confident enough to cut off its energy to whatever country they believed to have failed in their payments as also did the same thing to Ukraine in 2006 and 2009. Critics has concluded that Russia has been using its energysupply as political weapon