Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says his country will not give in to Russian demands that it pay more for Russian natural gas.
Mr. Lukashenko Friday said Belarus will not bow to what he called blackmail by Russia's state-run gas monopoly Gazprom. He said, if Russia continues its pressure, Belarusian citizens will go down into bunkers, but will not surrender.
Meanwhile, a Belarusian delegation traveled to Moscow for last-minute efforts to settle the dispute threatening energy supplies to Europe.
Gazprom says it will cut gas supplies to Belarus Monday unless there is an agreement. It is demanding that next year Minsk buy gas at more than twice the current price and pay part of the increase by giving Gazprom a 50 percent share of the Belarusian pipeline operator, Beltransgaz.
Belarus has threatened retaliation by disrupting Russian gas supplies crossing its territory to Europe.
Although the volume of Russian gas going through Belarus is relatively small, the European Union and Germany have urged the two sides to settle their differences quickly.
Analysts say about 80 percent of Russian gas exports to Europe go through Ukraine and would not be affected by any Russian cut-off to Belarus. The remaining 20 percent transits through Belarus.
Ukraine has offered to help Russia supply gas to Europe in the event of a cut in supplies to Belarus.
Russia briefly cut gas supplies to Ukraine a year ago. The impact of those cuts was felt in much of Europe, and led European governments to voice fears that Moscow had become an unreliable trading partner.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.