Gazprom starts cutting gas supplies to Belarus over debts

Belarus says it is still receiving full gas volumes from Russia, despite orders from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev earlier on Monday for state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom to begin cutting supplies.

Miller said the cuts would begin at 10:00 Moscow time [06:00 GMT] on Monday at 15% of previous daily volumes, and gradually be increased to 85%.

However, head of the Orshansky office of the Russia-Belarus pipeline Anatoly Yankovsky said at 09:40 local time [10:40 Moscow time] "the volumes of gas supplies to Belarus were equal to those delivered last week."

Belarus refuses to pay the Russian gas price, set at $169 per 1,000 cubic meters for the first quarter of the year and $185 for the second quarter, and has been paying $150 since January 1 instead.

Belarusian First Deputy Energy Minister Eduard Tovpinets on Friday evening announced that Gazprom owed some $200 million to Belarus for gas transit fees to Europe, the same amount that Gazprom said Belarus owed for gas deliveries.

"Belarus acknowledges the gas debt, but has offered to pay with machinery, equipment and various other goods," Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said, adding that talks had yielded no result.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said a group of Belarusian negotiators is in Moscow continuing talks with the oil giant on the resumption of gas supplies.

He added that the rate of the cuts in gas supplies would depend on the results of the talks.

Medvedev said Minsk should act according to the agreements and Russia's "understanding of the partnership and the existing problems".

"It is necessary to protect the interests of Russian consumers and ultimately the Russian state," he said.

MOSCOW, June 21 (RIA Novosti)


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