Russia deepens Belarus gas cuts

Russia deepened cuts of natural gas supplies to ex-Soviet neighbour Belarus even further today over what it claims is a debt of nearly 200 million US dollars (£135 million).

The chief of Russia's state-controlled Gazprom natural gas giant, Alexei Miller, said the company has cut supplies to Belarus by 60% from today.

Gazprom initially reduced supplies by 15% on Monday and cut them by another 15% yesterday. It warned Belarus it would eventually cut the deliveries by 85% if the country refuses to pay off its debt.

Belarus's Energy Ministry warned in a letter to the European Commission that cuts of more than 15% could lead to transit shortages.

Gazprom said it can channel gas supplies to European customers to another transit pipeline crossing Ukraine if Belarus starts siphoning gas.