* Belarus leader says transit debt not fully solved
* Russia says owes nothing to Minsk
* Tensions flare up after EU said row was over
By Jessica Bachman and Andrei Makhovsky
MOSCOW, June 25 Tensions over gas between Russia
and Belarus flared up again on Friday with Minsk saying it could
still halt Russian flows to Europe within 24 hours as it holds
out for payment of a small debt which Moscow denies it owes.
The spat burst back into life just a day after Minsk fully
resumed gas supplies to neighbouring EU members after a partial
suspension on Wednesday in a gas pricing and fee dispute with
Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM).
"I am warning the government again -- if Gazprom doesn't pay
for services in full in the next 24 hours it could lead to the
suspension of all oil and gas transportation services for the
Russian Federation," Interfax news agency quoted Belarussian
President Alexander Lukashenko as saying.
For Russia-Belarus map of gas pipelines in Europe
Gazprom said it did not understand what debt Lukashenko was
referring to. "Under the existing contract, Gazprom owes nothing
to Belarus," Gazprom's spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said in a
Russia triggered the dispute last week when it said Belarus
owed it around $200 million for gas deliveries and started to
reduce supplies from Monday. Gazprom resumed supplies to Belarus
on Thursday after Minsk paid the bill.
But Belarus also retaliated by threatening to cut off
Russian flows to Europe if Gazprom did not pay its debt for gas
transit. Minsk said Gazprom owed it $260 million but Gazprom
paid only $228 million so far.
Russia, the world's largest energy exporter, supplies Europe
with 25 percent of gas needs, with four-fifths of that flowing
via Ukraine and one-fifth via Belarus.
Russia also supplies 1 million barrels per day of oil to
German and Polish refineries via Belarus and flow remained
unaffected so far.
While both countries' rhetoric during the spat has been
focused on payment issues, analysts say politics, and not
economics, are at the heart of the matter.
Most analysts say halting gas supplies was an attempt by
Moscow to force Belarus into joining a customs union with Russia
and Kazakhstan, a move which Minsk has postponed in hope of
Lukashenko also gave refuge to ousted Kyrgyz President
Kurmanbek Bakiyev, despite Moscow's support for the new Kyrgyz
(writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Keiron Henderson)