Russia cuts gas supply to Belarus

Russian energy giant Gazprom has reduced gas supplies to Belarus by 30 percent of the planned volume after Minsk defaulted on its debt to the company.

In a televised address on Tuesday, Gazprom Chief Alexei Miller announced that "from 10 a.m. on June 22 we are bringing in a reduction of 30 percent on the daily volume of supplies of Russian gas to Belarus," because Minsk has failed to take any measures over the past 24 hours regarding its 200-million-dollar debt, Reuters reported.

He also warned of 85% cuts in the coming days unless Belarus pays off its debt.

Earlier on Monday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the gas monopoly to reduce natural gas supplies to Belarus by 15 percent.

The decision comes after Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko pledged on Monday that his country would repay the debt within two weeks even if they had to borrow money for it.

Russia set the gas price at USD 169 per 1,000 cubic meters (35,300 cubic ft) for the first quarter of the year. Belarus has been paying USD 150 since January.

The frequent wrangling over gas supplies poses a threat to other European countries that are heavily dependent on Russian gas piped through Belarus.

A spokesman for Gazprom, Sergei Kupriyanov, said earlier on Monday that the gas transits to Europe will remain impervious to the current dispute and envisaged cuts.



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