Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko suggested shutting off the flow of natural gas to Europe Thursday amid a threat of potential European Union sanctions imposed on the country for its handling of migrants.
“We are heating Europe, they are still threatening us that they will close the border. And if we shut off natural gas there?” Lukashenko said in comments first published by Belarusian news agency Belta, Reuters reported.
“Therefore, I would recommend that the Polish leadership, Lithuanians and other headless people think before speaking,” the leader added.
The pipeline Lukashenko was referring to, the Yamal gas pipeline, carries Russian natural gas through Belarus to Poland and Germany, according to Reuters. Russia is an ally to Belarus.
Europe has experienced gas shortages and price increases in recent weeks, and any interruption to the flow of gas through Belarus could have significant effects for other European countries, the media outlet noted.
Lukashenko’s comments follow accusations from the EU against Belarus earlier this week of using “gangster-style” tactics toward migrants gathering on the country’s border with Poland.
Belarus is reportedly encouraging migrants to come to the border with promises that they will easily be able to enter the EU, and the country’s security is reportedly giving migrants tools to damage Poland’s border fencing.