Supply of Russian gas to Belarus restored, threat to cut transit remains

Belarus is demanding Russian payments for gas transit on conditions irrelevant to the existing agreement, and is threatening to cut transit, claimed the head of Gazprom Aleksey Miller on Thursday.

He made such statement at the meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Interfax reports.

Therefore, "the issue [of restoring gas supplies to Belarus] is not fully resolved," Miller said.

Earlier on Thursday Gazprom has confirmed that Belarus has paid for the gas in full, according to Russia's presidential press secretary, RIA Novosti reports.

[Gazprom head Aleksey] Miller in a phone conversation has confirmed that the Belarusian party has fully paid for gas supplies and Gazprom has decided to restore gas delivery to the country in full," the spokesperson said.

However, the threat of Russian gas being stopped on its way through Belarus to Europe remains as Russia has not paid off any of its debts that Belarus recently brought up.

Before that Belarus has threatened to cut off the gas pipeline from Russia to Europe at 11:00 Moscow time [08:00 GMT] on Thursday if Russia does not pay back $260 million in gas transit fees.

Russian news agencies quoted deputy prime minister of the Belarus government Vladimir Semashko as saying that, in case Gazprom does not repay the debt, the transit through Belarusian territory would be stopped.

Gazprom has earlier cut supplies to the neighboring country by 60% due to the payment row.

The pipeline that goes through Belarus supplies about 6% of European gas - and the cutoff has been causing great concern. The European Energy Commissioner has even called the Moscow-Minsk situation a gauntlet to the entire European community, and that all gas agreements have to be carried through with in full.

Belarus has been calling on Russia for a review of the gas costs since the beginning of this year, claiming that it is not satisfied with the prices. No new agreement has been made so far between the two countries.


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