Western Europe is facing the possibility of renewed energy problems after a pipeline carrying oil through Belarus to Poland and Germany from Russia was shut down. It appears to be part of an increasingly bitter trade dispute between Minsk and Moscow. Russia’s strategic alliance with Belarus has been shaken by Moscow’s decision to impose duties on oil sales to its neighbour. It has also doubled its gas prices and banned imports of Belarusian sugar.
Minsk retaliated by slapping a transit fee on Russian oil pumped through Belarus. Only last week the ex-Soviet states promised the row would not affect western Europe. The European Commission has asked Russia and Belarus for an urgent explanation for the interruption to the flow of oil. A spokesman said there was no immediate risk to EU supplies but the Commission would take precautionary measures. Separately, Azerbaijan is reported to have suspended oil exports to Russia as a result of the hike in Russian gas prices.