Magazine article Europe-East

Energy : Russia Warns Eu of Belarus Gas Cuts

Magazine article Europe-East

Energy : Russia Warns Eu of Belarus Gas Cuts

Article excerpt

Moscow notified the EU of gas cuts to Belarus, on 21 June, under the so-called early warning mechanism'. Russia's state-owned gas company Gazprom is seeking payment of almost US$200 billion from Minsk. Facing budgetary and economic difficulties, Belarus' embattled leader, Alexander Lukashenko, has refused to pay increased prices for gas. At 10:00 on 21 June, Russia cut supplies by 15%, with a threat to further reduce flows up to 85%.

A spokesperson for Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger stated, on 21 June, that the EU executive is "closely" following the situation, with DG TREN officials meeting with Russian Embassy energy experts. "We expect that gas transit flows to the EU from Belarus will not be disrupted by the dispute. We also expect that all the contractual obligations will be respected." The official, however, had no information as to whether gas supplies to the EU had also been cut in response by Belarus. "It is not sure whether or not we are being affected."

"We have not started talks with the Russian or Belarus side," added Oettinger's spokesperson. The EU received notification by Russia that there would be a disruption. Notification, however, came at the same time as supplies were being cut despite the EU having worked out an early' warning system with Russia.

Oettinger's spokesperson played down the significance of the cuts. "A cut in the gas supply to Belarus does not mean that we will be affected," she said. Some 20% of Russian gas is transported via Belarus to the EU through the (unaffected) Jamal pipeline. …

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