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Lavrov Presses Transit States

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday urged energy transit countries on Russia’s border to sign up for an “early warning” mechanism designed to protect European oil and gas consumers from potential supply cuts.

Lavrov said Russia had immediately agreed to the European Union’s request to create the warning system, which was used for the first time last month. It wanted the system to expand to include its neighbors, across whose territory pipelines take Russian oil and gas westward.

“We originally advocated that transit countries participate in such an early warning mechanism,” Lavrov said.

“The question of how to engage transit countries in an early warning mechanism to safeguard from interruptions in supply also remains on the agenda,” he told a news conference.

Europe relies on Russia for a quarter of its gas and a large proportion of its oil, much of which must cross the territories of Belarus and Ukraine. Disputes between the states have led to several supply disruptions in recent years.

Russia is locked in a stalemate with Belarus over oil pricing and, though crude continues to flow to Europe via the country, customers in Germany and Poland are concerned that a prolonged dispute could result in supplies along the route being cut off.

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