Putin chides Lukashenko over threat to cut off gas to EU – POLITICO

Russian president Vladimir Putin on Saturday expressed disapproval of a threat by Belarus’ chief to cut off Russian gas provides to the European Union.

“He can, I assume, it’s no good, although, and I’ll speak to him about it … in case he simply stated it out of anger,” Putin told Russian TV channel Rossiya 1 in response to Alexander Lukashenko’s threat to flip off the gas faucets.

“This might be a violation of our transit contract and I hope it won’t come to that,” Putin stated, referring to agreements governing the circulate of Russian gas alongside pipelines operating by way of Belarus. Chopping off the gas “wouldn’t contribute to the event of our relationships with Belarus as a transit nation,” he warned.

The Russian president additionally claimed not to have heard Lukashenko’s gas threat which was relayed on Thursday by Belarussian state media. Lukashenko made the threat because the EU thought of extra sanctions on his regime in response to the migrant disaster on the Belarus-Poland border.

“To be sincere, that is the primary time I’ve heard about it, as a result of I’ve talked to Alexander Grigorievich [Lukashenko] twice lately, and he has by no means advised me about it, by no means even hinted at it,” Putin stated.

On Friday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated Russia will respect its gas contracts with Europe. “Russia has been, is and can stay a rustic that fulfills all obligations to present European customers with gas,” Peskov stated, in accordance to Deutsche Welle

Putin blamed the EU for the disaster which has stranded 1000’s of migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland. “We must always not overlook the place these migrant-related crises got here from. Is Belarus the rationale for these issues? No, the explanations have been created by the Western international locations, the European international locations themselves,” he claimed within the Rossiya 1 interview.

“Russia has completely nothing to do with it,” Putin added.

He additionally denied Belarussian and Russian airways’ involvement in flying migrants from the Center East to Belarus.

“Our aviation firms don’t carry these individuals. None of our firms transport them. By the best way, Belavia, as [Lukashenko] advised me, doesn’t carry them, both. They e-book charters,” Putin stated. Belarus’ state-owned airline Belavia is anticipated to be focused subsequent week in new sanctions into consideration by EU international locations.

Tensions between Minsk and Brussels have been escalating for the reason that EU imposed sanctions on Lukashenko’s regime after he imposed a crackdown on opponents following presidential elections in October 2020 that have been extensively seen as fraudulent.

EU leaders accuse Lukashenko of instumentalizing unlawful migration in a “hybrid attack,” by way of his efforts to push migrants to the borders in response to these sanctions.

Amid rising fears for the security of migrants caught within the standoff, Polish police found the body of a young Syrian man Saturday close to the border with Belarus. Migrants have made a number of efforts to push previous the Polish border fence, which is protected by 15,000 troops, police and border guards. They’ve additionally been making efforts to cross into Latvia and Lithuania.

In the meantime, army tensions between NATO international locations and Russia are additionally intensifying as Russia amasses troops on its border with Ukraine. The chance of an unintentional armed battle is greater than in the course of the Chilly Conflict, Gen. Nick Carter, Chief of the U.Okay. Protection Workers, said in an interview Saturday. The U.Okay. has despatched a detachment of troops to Poland to present “engineer help” on the border with Belarus.

Putin blamed Western nations for heightening tensions, saying U.S. and NATO workouts within the Black Sea have been a “critical problem” for Russia.

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