Belarus said it was halting the transit of Russian gas to Europe on Tuesday after Moscow stepped up gas cuts to Belarus in a debt spat, while President Alexander Lukashenko said the two countries faced a full-blown "gas war".
Russia doubled gas supply cuts to Belarus to 30 percent of normal volumes on Tuesday to force Minsk to pay debts for deliveries, which it estimates at $192 million. Belarus for its part says Gazprom owes it $260 million for gas transit although Gazprom says Minsk had effectively blocked payments, Reuters informs.
The frequent wrangling over gas supplies poses a threat to other European countries that are heavily dependent on Russian gas piped through Belarus.
A spokesman for Gazprom, Sergei Kupriyanov, said earlier on Monday that the gas transits to Europe will remain impervious to the current dispute and envisaged cuts, Press TV reports.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba believes that "Crimea has already become a" suitcase without a handle” for Russia