Russia warns Belarus to pay its gas debt or face cuts in supplies

MOSCOW (AP) - Russian news agencies are quoting President Dmitry Medvedev as telling Belarus it must pay its debt for natural gas supplies within five days or face cuts.

Medvedev spoke Tuesday at a meeting with the head of Russian state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom, who said a contract allows the company to reduce gas supplies to Belarus for its failure to cover the debt.

Medvedev answered that Belarus should be given five days to settle the debt or face "harsh measures."

Russia is Belarus' main ally and sponsor, but relations between the two former Soviet countries have been strained by financial arguments. President Alexander Lukashenko accuses the Kremlin of trying to subdue Belarus and to acquire key industrial assets.


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