Today: Friday, 19 August 2022 year

Lukashenko threatens EU with gas cutoff as border tensions rise

Lukashenko threatens EU with gas cutoff as border tensions rise

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko warned he could cut off gas transit if the European Union pushes ahead with more sanctions against his regime.

Commenting on the reaction of Lukashenko to another round of EU sanctions, the bloc will not be intimidated by threats from Belarus, Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said during a Thursday briefing.

This week, Poland closed one of the main border crossings with Belarus. Meantime, Mr Lukashenko leader stressed that his country provides heat to Europe, “and they are threatening us with the border closure”.

“What if we block natural gas transit? I would recommend the leadership of Poland, Lithuanians and other brainless folk to think hard,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

Belarus is encouraging migrants to fly from the Middle East to Minsk, after which it is reportedly aiding access to the country’s borders with EU countries. Warsaw says several thousand people are camped in the damp birch forests marking the Polish-Belarusian border, making the situation alarming.

Lukashenko is retaliating against EU sanctions imposed against him and top allies for their brutal crackdown on pro-democracy supporters following last year’s stolen presidential election, Reuters has learned.

It’s unclear how Lukashenko would be able to turn off gas flowing from Russia to Poland on the Yamal pipeline, which is owned by Russia’s Gazprom. Any such effort would have to be approved by Moscow.