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Lukashenka Lashes Out At Russia Amid 'Blackmail' Dispute


Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has lashed out at Russia and said that nobody can bring his country "to its knees," his latest salvo during a period of rocky relations with Moscow.

Lukashenka's March 9 outburst came two days after Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev suggested that his Belarusian counterpart, Andrey Kabyakou, was trying "blackmail" Moscow in a persistent dispute over natural-gas prices.

Attempts "to increase tensions by reprimanding us instead of solving problems...will not work," Lukashenka said during a government meeting.

At a March 7 meeting between prime ministers of the Eurasian Economic Union, Kabyakou criticized Russia for more than doubling the price it charges Belarus over a yearlong period after the regional trade group started functioning in January 2015.

Lukashenka seemed to suggest that if pushed too far, Minsk could abandon its close ties with Moscow, which sees Belarus as a buffer between Russia and NATO.

"Medvedev...should understand that if we pay a European price [for Russian gas], he will have to pay for something as well. And that price will be immeasurably higher than the price for natural gas," Lukashenka said.

"Some smart types think that it is possible to always bend us and bring us to our knees, but that is not going to happen," he said.

With reporting by BelTA and BelaPAN
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