Leader of Belarus blasts ally Russia's 'insolent' practices

MINSK, Belarus — The president of Belarus president has threatened to retaliate against Russia for what he called its "insolent" trade restrictions.

The statement by President Alexander Lukashenko reflects simmering tensions between the neighboring countries. Russia and Belarus are allies with close political and economic ties, but the governments regularly quarrel.

Lukashenko has ruled Belarus with an iron hand for a quarter-century while relying on Russian loans and cheap energy to keep the economy afloat. His criticism on Thursday characterized energy price increases as part of Moscow's efforts to force Belarus to abandon its independence.

Lukashenko said Russia "has grown insolent and started twisting our hands" by banning agriculture products from Belarus. He suggested Belarus could retaliate by shutting down repairs on pipelines that carry Russian crude oil to the West.

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