Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom has begun cutting gas supplies to Belarus on President Dmitry Medvedev's orders, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Monday.
"Belarus acknowledges the gas debt, but has offered to pay with machinery, equipment and various other goods," Miller said, adding that talks had yielded no result.
Belarus refuses to pay the Russian gas price, set at $169 per 1,000 cubic meters for the first quarter of the year and $185 for the second quarter, and has been paying $150 since January 1 instead.
Minsk previously refused to acknowledge the debt. Instead, Belarusian First Deputy Energy Minister Eduard Tovpinets on Friday evening announced that Gazprom owed some $200 million to Belarus for gas transit fees to Europe, the same amount that Gazprom said Belarus owed for gas deliveries.
Miller said the cuts would begin at 15% of daily supplies, and gradually be increased to 85%.
Medvedev said Minsk should act according to the agreements and Russia's "understanding of the partnership and the existing problems".
"It is necessary to protect the interests of Russian consumers and ultimately the Russian state," he said.
MOSCOW, June 21 (RIA Novosti)