Alyaksandr Lukashenka (file photo) (RFE/RL)
November 24, 2006 -- Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has urged Ukraine to coordinate policies to counter Russia's pressure over energy supplies.
Lukashenka made the comments yesterday in Minsk.
Belarus and Ukraine together hold nearly all the pipelines that take Russian gas to western European customers. Both countries are faced with demands by Russia's Gazprom monopoly for steep increases for gas supplies.
Lukashenka, speaking to a group of Ukrainian reporters today, suggested energy cooperation should focus on gas transit and said the two countries had "more trump cards."
He also said Belarus could respond to higher Russian gas prices by charging Russia for cargo transit and the use of military facilities.
Lukashenka, condemned in the West for his authoritarian regime, is an unlikely partner for pro-Western Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.