Russia cuts gas flow to Belarus over debt dispute

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the country's gas monopoly Gazprom to begin cutting gas glow to Belarus, Gazprom chief Alexei Miller said on Monday.

The decision was made after Belarus refused to pay some 200 million U.S. dollars owned to Russia over gas supplies. Over 85 percent of Russia's gas supplies to the neighbor will be affected.

A Belorussian delegation, left for Moscow Sunday, has held talks over the gas debt issue Monday with the Russian side.

"Belarus recognizes the gas debt but offers to pay it back with machines, equipment and other commodities," Miller told Medvedev after the talks.

Hence, the talks did not produce any result, Miller said.

Medvedev asked Gazprom to continue talks with Minsk and the gas cut will be "gradual and proportional to the volume of debt," Miller said.

The Gazprom CEO last week warned to cut gas supplies to Belarus by 85 percent from Monday over the lingering debts.

However, Belarus Deputy Energy Minister Edward Tovpinets claimed the gas debt is equal to the transit debt owed by Gazprom, which means the gas debt could be offset.


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