After Russia cut deliveries of natural gas to Belarus by third over unpaid debt disputes, the Belarusian President ordered the shutdown of transit supplies of Russian gas to Europe, which represents almost 20% of the Russian gas exported to Europe.
The Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that the Russian energy giant Gazprom owes his country 260 million dollars for the transit of natural gas through Belarus, while Moscow is demanding nearly 200 million dollars that Belarus owes Russia.
"I have ordered the government to close down the transit of gas via Belarus until Gazprom pays for it. They haven't paid us a penny for this in the past six months. This is a cynical and absurd situation when you owe me $260 million while I owe you $190 million, and you are closing the valve on me", said Lukashenko.
This decision came after the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered Gazprom to cut gas supplies to Belarus by 30% of normal daily volume as Minsk refused to pay its debt which reached to nearly 200 million dollars, which inflicted the gas dispute between the two countries.
Russia also warned that gas to Belarus might be cut by 85% in the coming days. While Russia exports almost 20% of its gas to Europe through Belarus, the remaining 80% transits through Ukraine, so this "gas war" might affect only three European countries, Germany, Poland and Lithuania.
Thereby, the European Officials are likely to remain in close contact with the Russian and Belarusian authorities, and in case this dispute continues, an alternative route might be found via Ukraine, according to the European Commission energy representative Marlene Holzner.
Meanwhile, the Russian authorities stressed that this dispute will no affect European customers, like what happened in 2009, when a similar dispute between Russia and Ukraine affected millions of European in the middle of winter, when supplies were cut off.