From the New York Times: The oil price dispute that erupted over the weekend between Russia and Belarus has been depicted as a threat to European energy supplies — a development that has become something of an annual cold weather ritual. The greater threat, however, seems to be to relations between the two countries, often thought of as the closest of allies.

The quarrel involves a crude-oil subsidy that for years has helped prop up the government of the authoritarian leader of Belarus, President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko. The subsidy agreement, which yielded billions in profits annually to Belarus’s national oil company, ended on New Year’s Eve, and Russia’s prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin, said he had no intention of restoring it…

The two countries remain committed, at least nominally, to an eventual political union, but they continued their bickering on Monday as the national electricity company in Minsk, the Belarussian capital, said it might halt transmission to Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave, citing a lapsed contract.

A Belarussian official was later quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that this was only a “warning” in response to the Russian threat on oil. (photo: Natalia Kolesnikova)