Belarus renews ultimatum to suspend Russian gas transit

MOSCOW, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday gave another 24 hours for Gazprom to pay its proclaimed residual debt for transit fees, adding otherwise his government would suspend the transit of Russian oil and gas.

"I am warning the (Russian) government once again: failure by Gazprom to pay for the services over the next 24 hours must lead to the suspension of any services for the Russian Federation, involving transportation of hydrocarbons-- oil and gas," Lukashenko told a government meeting in Minsk as quoted by Russian news agencies.

Gazprom, in turn, says it owes nothing to Belarus under current contract, according to company spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov. One day earlier, the company sent a large package of documents to Minsk, trying to justify its positions.

Tensions over gas between Moscow and Minsk apparently eased up as both sides claimed clearances of their respective debts. But the latest verbal exchange indicated that the so-called "gas war" has not been over yet.

Gazprom has since Thursday fully resumed gas supplies to Belarus after it confirmed the receipt of some 187 million U.S. dollars from Minsk.

However, Minsk insisted Moscow pay 260 million dollars instead of the 228 million dollars that Russian energy giant had already paid, for the transit fees of Russian gas supplies to Europe via Belarus territory.

The spat between Moscow and Minsk started a few weeks ago when Gazprom asked its Belarus counterpart Beltransgaz to pay its arrears for 2010, which amounted to some 200 million dollars.

The brawl escalated earlier this week as Gazprom cut further the blue fuel supply to Belarus. In response, Belarus also threatened to shut down Russian gas transit to Europe.

Belarus is a transit country for Russian gas exports to Europe. A similar dispute between Moscow and Kiev early last year caused heating fuel shortage for some European countries in late winter.


Partners: Social Network