Belarus gave 'no clear answer' on gas supply threat, EU says

Brussels - Belarus did not tell whether it really intends to make good on a threat to pass on to Europe the cut in gas supplies Russia imposed on it after Minsk failed to pay for past deliveries, the European Commission said Wednesday.

EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger tried in vain to obtain reassurances from Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko on the matter, after President Aleksandr Lukashenko warned Tuesday supplies to Europe would be reduced.

"He did not get a clear answer. He neither did confirm nor did he deny that would happen," Oettinger spokeswoman Marlene Holzner told reporters in Brussels.

Past rows between Russia and another transit country, Ukraine, left much of Europe in the cold. This time the potential for disruption is more limited, as only 6.25 per cent of the EU's total gas consumption transits through Belarus.

Holzner said that as of 0600 GMT, Wednesday, the two EU countries neighbouring Belarus had not experienced any problems.

"Poland and also Lithuania told us that there is no interruption of gas, they get the same volume of gas as usual, and that also means Germany is okay because the transit of gas to Germany goes through Poland," the official indicated.


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