Russia-Belarus gas spat not to affect Europe

Europe will not be affected by Russia-Belarus gas conflict. There will be no limits on gas supplies to Europe via Belarus, Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupryanov said after talks with his Belarus counterparts.

We have everything we possibly need to provide for gas transit, including the Yamal-Europe export pipeline owned by Gazprom. It is not linked to Beltransgas domestic pipelines.Gazprom is also considering gas supplies via Ukraine and Poland, Kupryanov said. After the gas troubles with Ukraine in winter 2009, Russia signed an early warning agreement with the EU, under which it provides the EU with all details of the current conflict. Early morning, Russian vice premier Igor Sechin informed the EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger about the cut in Russian gas supplies to Belarus. Russian and EU experts then held an urgent meeting in Brussels discussing the conflict which may cause troubles with supplies also to Lithuania, Poland and Germany.

The conflict emerged due to the Belarusian outstanding debt for Russian gas. This year it had to pay 34 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters which Minsk found too expensive. Thus, it continued paying according to last year's rates and had run up some 200,000,000 debt. Belarus has ignored all Moscow's repeated warnings and faced a 15-percent supplies cut on Monday. Gazprom could cut supplies by 85 percent under the contract but didn't do this, taking into account good bilateral relations.

The negotiations are under way. Russia's only claim is the payback. Belarus is trying to tie it with Russia's debt for gas transit.

Sergey Kupryanov admits the debt and says that it may be paid any time

We will pay when Belarus provides us with the documents in this respect. This may be done shortly. Minsk needs foreign currency and when Moscow pays it debt, Belarus will be able to give this money as payback. This is what Belarus vice premier Vladimir Semashko hopes for. He said the issue may be settled in two weeks, while Gazprom plans to continue talks on Tuesday and may impose new restrictions.


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