Russia threatens to reduce Belarus gas supplies
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday said the country's gas giant Gazprom would reduce gas supplies to neighboring Belarus if Minsk did not pay off debt by the end of the week.
"We will give our Belarussian colleagues five days to decide how to handle this," Medvedev told Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller in televised remarks.
"If this is not done, then other measures would be applied."
Gazprom said last month Belarus owed it nearly 200 million dollars for gas supplies and the debt might grow to 500 million to 600 million dollars by year's end.
Miller told Medvedev that Gazprom had the right to reduce gas supplies if Belarus did not pay its gas bill.
The European Union closely watches gas disputes between Russia and its ex-Soviet neighbours after a row between Moscow and Kiev led to supplies of Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine being cut off for two weeks in early 2009.
In January, the two countries ended a dispute over Russian oil deliveries to Belarus which had raised fears European supplies could be threatened.
© 2010 AFP