With a winter gas crunch looming for parts of the European Union, the bloc’s energy commissioner in Brussels has urged Russia and Belarus to resolve their bitter pricing row. Belarus has threatened to stop Russian gas deliveries through its pipelines to Western Europe. That is unless the Russian provider Gazprom relents on demands that Minsk pay a hugely increased price for its needs.
A senior director at Gazprom, Alexander Medvedev, said he hoped Belarus would not try to siphon off gas from the export pipeline.
“That would absolutely contravene all international practice,” he said. “All the gas our European customers, including Lithuania, Latvia, Germany and Poland, have contracted for, we will deliver to Belarus’ transit system.”
Earlier this week, the head of Gazprom warned Minsk its position was “destructive”.
Minsk has said if it does not have a domestic gas supply deal by the time its contract expires on 31 December, then Gazprom won’t have a transit deal.
About a fifth of Russian exports to Europe are pumped through Belarus. The Russian monopoly’s row with Ukraine last year caused gas cuts to Western Europe. EU national energy experts are scheduled to plot common strategy on 4 January.
When the group met in October, Ukraine and Russia took part, and Russia assured everyone that disruptions would not be repeated.