Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s recent statement regarding the feasibility of blocking gas transit to Europe was not harmonized with the Kremlin, Russia’s news agency TASS reports with reference to Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
According to him, although Belarus is Russia’s ally, it is a sovereign state. It is ‘the president of Belarus’ who delivered the statement, but Russia did not authorise it, he said when asked to comment on the situation.
“Russia has been, is and will remain a country that fulfills all obligations to provide European consumers with gas. The reliability of Russia as a supplier under current and future contracts is beyond doubt,” Peskov stressed.
A day earlier, when hosting a ministerial meeting in Minsk, Alyaksandr Lukashenka warned the European Union against introducing more sanctions against Belarus or expanding them, saying that there might be a ‘hard hit back’ involving the main transnational gas pipeline Yamal-Europe that goes through Belarus .
“We provide heat to Europe, and they are threatening us with the border closure. What if we block natural gas transit? Therefore, I would recommend the leadership of Poland, Lithuanians and other brainless folk to think hard before opening mouth. But it is up to them,” state-run news agency BelTA quoted him.
In turn, Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said that the European Union ‘would not be intimidated by threats from Belarus’.
Amid the ongoing migration crisis at the Belarusian-Polish border, the European Union is close to imposing more sanctions on Belarus, targeting some 30 individuals and entities including its foreign minister Uladzimir Makey and Belarus’ national air carrier Belavia. In the course of her Wednesday’s meeting with US leader Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU would ‘widen sanctions against Belarus very rapidly at the beginning of next week’.