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Gas war hots up

Gas war hots up
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The stakes in the gas war between Russia and Belarus have been raised even higher.

Russia has now reduced gas supplies by 60 per cent over unpaid bills.

But Belarus insists it has now settled its bill to the end of April and is demanding Russian gas giant, Gazprom now pays overdue transit fees exceeding the Belarussian debt.

Gazprom chief Alexei Miller says Belarus stills owes money and claims Minsk is stopping his company from paying its bills.

Relations between Minsk and Moscow are increasingly strained these days – and Belarussian president, Alexander Lukaschenko, already in the Kremlin’s bad books for sheltering the ousted Kyrgyz president – spoke openly of a “gas war” on Tuesday.

Now he is threatening to halt all gas flows to Europe.

Around a fifth of Russian gas to Europe transits via Belarus and Lithuania is already reporting shortages.

“The EU is concerned about the situation,” says Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament. “We’d like secure gas supplies, and we’d like to be sure that they’re not stopped. We need constructive dialogue, both with Russia and Belarus.”

Russia says it will reduce supplies by up to 85 per cent if Belarus does not pay the money Moscow says it still owes.