The energy supply crisis has moved from crisis to crisis and tyrant to tyrant after Alexander Lukashenko threatened to cut gas into Europe via Belarus, if the EU imposes further sanctions on his country for its treatment of migrants.
The threat was enough for prices to rise again following a brief reprieve earlier this week for the European market after Russia increased its flows into the continent.
The European benchmark was up 0.5 per cent on Thursday morning, trading at a price of €71.85 per megawatt hour.
The Belarussian President hit back at European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who said the EU would widen its sanctions on the country’s regime.
She accused the dictatorship of “cynical geopolitical powerplay” in funnelling migrants to the EU’s borders in an attempt to destabilise the bloc.
As much as 40 per cent of the EU’s gas comes from Russia, with about a fifth passing through Belarus in 2020.
Lukashenko has pledged to respond to any sanctions he considered unacceptable.
Speaking to Belarus state news agency, Belta, he said: “We are heating Europe, and they are threatening to close the border. What if we cut off gas to them? Therefore I recommend that the leaders of Poland, Lithuania and the other headless people think before speaking. We should not stop at anything to defend our sovereignty and independence.”
European gas prices have soared this year amid concerns over low supplies ahead of winter, with wholesale costs rocketing by as much as 250 per cent.
OPEC+ is limiting supply increases to 400,000 barrels a month, while Russia has only just turned its gaps taps back on in key pipelines.
The UK has been pushing for shipments of liquefied natural gas from suppliers such as Qatar, as half of its domestic suppliers have left the market this year.