Russian gas supplies to Europe are under threat once again after Moscow ordered the flow to Belarus to be shut off.
The on-going row is over disputed monies said to be owed by Belarus to Russia’s Gazprom.
The two sides are also in disagreement over the price being set.
Alexei Miller, Gazprom’s Chief Executive Officer, says supplies will be reduced gradually.
“If the debts for Russian gas supplies are not paid off within the next five days, Gazprom has the right according to the current contract to cut those gas supplies in proportion to Belarus’s debts. The gas supplies could be cut by as much as 85 per cent each day,” he said.
According to Miller, Belarus admits having the debt.
“But it proposes to pay it with machinery, equipment and a series of other products,” Miller said, adding that the talks ended without resolution.
Gazprom says Belarus owes it the equivalent of 150 million euros – something which the former soviet republic denies.
The country’s President Alexander Lukashenko has insisted that Russia provide it with cheap oil and gas as part of a deal to come into force next month.
The prospect of cuts to Belarus has raised the spectre of a repeat of last year’s problems when supplies to Western Europe were disrupted during a dispute between Russia and Ukraine.
Russia to cut gas supplies to Belarus