(BBC News) – Belarus’s leader has threatened to cut-off gas supplies to Europe if sanctions are imposed over an escalating migrant crisis at the country’s border.
Thousands of people are at the border with Poland, where they are enduring freezing conditions in the hope of crossing into the European Union.
Western officials have accused Belarus of provoking the crisis to undermine EU security, an allegation it denies.
Meanwhile, the EU is reportedly preparing a package of fresh sanctions.
“If they impose additional sanctions on us… we must respond,” the country’s long-time authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday.
“We are heating Europe, and they are threatening us,” he said, referring to a Russian gas pipeline that runs through Belarus and into the EU.
“And what if we halt natural gas supplies?” he added. “I would recommend that the Polish leadership, Lithuanians and [others] think before speaking.”
His comments raised new concerns about a shortage of natural gas supplies and high prices in Europe.