Crisis talks in Moscow over gas row with Belarus

Last minute talks to avert a gas crisis between Belarus and Russia are being held in Moscow today.

The on-going row is over disputed monies said to be owed by Belarus to Russia's Gazprom.

The energy giant is threatening to cut supplies over the issue. The two sides are also in disagreement over the price being set.

Gazprom's CEO, Alexei Miller warned:

"If the debts for Russian gas supplies are not paid off within the next five days, Gazprom has the right, according to the current contract, to cut those gas supplies in proportion to Belarus's debts. The gas supplies could be cut by as much as 85 per cent each day."

Gazprom says Belarus owes it the equivalent of 150 million euros - something which the former soviet republic denies.

The country's President Alexander Lukashenko has insisted that Russia provide it with cheap oil and gas as part of a deal to come into force next month.

The prospect of cuts to Belarus has raised the spectre of a repeat of last year's problems when supplies to Western Europe were disrupted during a dispute between Russia and Ukraine.


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