Vladimir Putin issued a sharp rebuke to his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko over the latter’s threat to cut off gas supplies to the European Union.
“He can, I guess, it’s no good, though, and I’ll talk to him about it.” Putin told Russian state media, Politico reported.
Russian gas to Europe runs through pipelines in Belarus and relies on Lukashenko’s cooperation.
“This would be a violation of our transit contract and I hope it will not come to that,” Putin said, adding that if Lukashenko carried out his threat it “would not contribute to the development of our relations with Belarus as a transit country.”
Since August 2020, when Lukashenko was elected to a wide-ranging election widely regarded as fraudulently, relations between Belarus and Europe have been in decline. For several months, Belarus was ravaged by rioting. The EU soon imposed sanctions.
European leaders accuse Lukashenko now of allowing migrants from Middle East to cross his country into Poland in retaliation. There are currently thousands of people trying to enter the European Union. Humanitarian groups fear that the situation will spiral into an emergency.