Gazprom resumes gas to Belarus

MOSCOW, June 24 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom has received a full gas payment from Belarus and returned transits to normal levels, officials said Thursday.

Gazprom on Monday cut gas supplies to Belarus by 15 percent, threatening to cut supplies by 85 percent if Minsk didn't come forward with its $200 million in gas debt. Minsk argues that Moscow is obligated to a similar amount in transit fees.

Vladimir Semashko, the first deputy prime minister of Belarus, said Minsk borrowed around $200 million and sent $187 million off to Moscow,

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told Russian officials Tuesday he borrowed the money to pay off debts "from my friends."

Natalya Timakova, a spokeswoman for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, said Gazprom chief Alexei Miller confirmed the transaction, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.

"During a telephone conversation, Miller informed the president that Belarus had paid in full for gas deliveries under the price stipulated in the contract and Gazprom has decided to resume full gas supplies," she said.

Minsk said if Moscow didn't come forward with its transit fees, it would cut the flow of Russian gas through Europe. Gas officials in Belarus say they haven't seen the payments yet.

Russian ships 80 percent of its gas to Europe through Ukraine and the remainder through Belarus. Kiev was asked to take on emergency supplies if the row with Minsk continued.


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