When your gas bill is past due and the supply is turned off, having a friend with cash is priceless. With a Russian bill collector at his neck and faced with a gas brownout in Europe, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko phoned his well-heeled counterpart from Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, to ask if he could spare a couple of hundred million dollars. No worries at all, Aliyev said.
"I asked Ilham Aliyev and within 24 hours, or even less, he lent me $200 million," Lukashenko told Euronews on June 25. "We paid 187 million of that to Gazprom." The multimillion-dollar check from Baku settled a politically charged Moscow-Minsk dispute that had briefly put part of Europe on a low-hydrocarbon diet.