MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Friday that Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko had not consulted Moscow before raising the possibility of cutting natural gas flows to Europe, and that Russia was a reliable exporter that fulfilled its obligations.
Lukashenko threatened on Thursday to retaliate against any new European Union sanctions over a migrant standoff on the Belarus-EU border, including by shutting down the transit of natural gas and goods via Belarus.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Lukashenko’s threat had not been coordinated with Moscow.
Russia is a major exporter of natural gas to Europe via Belarus and the Kremlin made it clear it did not want to see any disruption in supplies.
“This is a statement by the president of Belarus,” Peskov said. “I want to remind you of President Putin’s statement that Russia has always fulfilled its contract obligations… Belarus is our ally, but it is a sovereign state.”
Peskov described Russia as a guarantor of Europe’s energy security.
“Russia’s reliability as a supplier and partner for current and future contracts cannot be called into question,” he said.
(Reporting by Dmitry Antonov and Andrew Osborn; Writing by Tom Balmforth/Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Osborn)