Lukashenko's energy threat risks our ties: Putin

Lukashenko threatened on Thursday (November 11) to retaliate against any new EU sanctions against Minsk over the standoff, suggesting he could halt the transit of gas and other goods via Belarus.

"He didn't mention this to me once, he didn't even hint," Putin said in a state television interview, making his first public comments about the Belarusian threat.

"Of course, in theory, Lukashenko as president of a transit country could order our (gas) supplies to be cut to Europe. But this would mean a breach of our gas transit contract and I hope this will not happen," Putin added.

Russia has been Belarus's closest ally for years, helping with everything from cash to cheap energy supplies and military assistance, but Lukashenko's comments come at a sensitive time for Russia's energy exports to Europe.

Lukashenko, shunned by the outside world and facing yet more international sanctions, is more dependent than ever on Putin's backing.

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