Time is running out to find a solution to the crisis that’s threatening to disrupt Europe’s gas supply for the second year in a row. Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom has written to Germany, Poland and Lithuania to warn them of the situation. Belorus is locked in a haggling war with Gazprom over prices. It says it won’t pay more than $75 per thousand cubic metres. Gazprom has cut its asking price from $200 to $105. It might also accept $75 plus half the control over Belorussian pipelines.
A Gazprom spokesman says that this part-cash part-asset deal would mean Belorus gets free gas for a year and a billion dollars in its pocket. He does not mention that it would mean Belorus surrendering half its transit revenue. Belorussian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko believes his country’s transit lines are too important to Gazprom. He says Russia will not cut off its supply even if no deal is reached before the January 1st deadline. Gazprom says it will.
Around a fifth of Russian gas to Europe passes through Belorus, which has now threatened to deny Gazprom access to its pipelines if it’s forced to pay more. Belorus has been paying only around a third of what Ukraine does and a fifth of European prices thanks to previous good relations with Moscow. With Russia now demanding market prices, those relations seem to be getting colder.