Russia and Belarus ''face gas war''

Moscow and Minsk face the prospect of a 'gas war, Belarus' President has said.

The warning came as the country gets ready to turn off the transit of Russian deliveries to Europe following the Kremlin's move to start cutting supplies.

Russia's state owned Gazprom says it' owed 150 million euros, something Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko disputes: ''I am informing you that, at the moment, Gazprom owes us 210 million euros for gas transit. They haven't paid anything. How cynical can you be, when you owe me 210 million euros, and I owe you 150 million, and you start to turn the tap off on me,'' he said.

Russia supplies around a quarter of Europe's gas needs with one fifth coming via Belarus. Gazprom promised to do all it could to make up the shortfall.

General Director of Gazprom Export Alexander Medvedev said: ''We will do everything possible from our side to make sure European customs will not suffer.''

With little over 6 percent of Europe's gas needs coming via Belarus, the EU insisted only Lithuania, Poland and Germany might be affected, but said the situation was still unclear.

The EU's Marlene Holzner said: ''At the moment, we have no information that gas to Lithuania has been cut, if that is the case, as you say, Latvia could deliver gas for one week. But at the moment, we don't know what happens after this week.''

Brussels remains confident there will be no danger this time of the types of cuts seen in previous gas disputes between Russia and its neighbours.


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