Russia cuts Belarus gas over unpaid debt

Russia has started cutting its gas supplies to neighbouring Belarus in a dispute over payments.

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the state-controlled gas company Gazprom to reduce supplies by 15 per cent.

Russian television channels showed Mr Medvedev meeting with the head of Gazprom, Alexei Miller, who told him Belarus had offered to pay off its debt, not in cash, but by providing machinery and other commodities.

Solemnly, the president announced that Gazprom could not accept debts being paid off in pies, butter or any other means.

He gave the order for gas supplies to be cut by 15 per cent today, gradually increasing to more than 80 per cent if there was no breakthrough in continuing negotiations between the two sides.


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