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    Belarusian President Lukashenko says Moscow needs Minsk

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    Russia will suffer irreparable damage in case it ruins relations with Belarus, the country's president said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday in the wake of the recent energy spat between Minsk and Moscow.

    Russia will suffer irreparable damage in case it ruins relations with Belarus, the country's president said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday in the wake of the recent energy spat between Minsk and Moscow.

    Earlier this month, Belarus and Russian energy giant Gazprom were involved in a dispute over Belarus' refusal to pay Russian-set prices for gas with Gazprom slashing deliveries and Minsk threatening to suspend European transit supplies.

    "Such policy on behalf of Russia will result in very bad consequences for the Russian Federation," Alexander Lukashenko was quoted by Belarusian Belta news agency as saying.

    "But I do not think that it is an officially acknowledged course of Russia and that it will follow this course. Otherwise, Russia will lose Belarus and it will be irreparable damage," the president added.

    Lukashenko said that Belarus will be experiencing an intensive development in the future as the country builds friendly relations with many other countries.

    "We have many reliable friends. Besides Russia and the European Union, we have good relations with Venezuela, Iran, North African states, the Middle East, including Israel," Lukashenko said.

    Last year relations between Belarus and Russia, which have been trying for several years to establish a Union State, were also strained over a series of economic and political disputes, including Russian energy supplies, a milk export row and Lukashenko's reluctance to sign a deal to set up a post-Soviet rapid reaction force.

    MINSK, June 29 (RIA Novosti) 

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