MOSCOW, June 21 (UPI) -- Russia has reassured Lithuania its natural gas supply won't be interrupted, despite a gas bill dispute with Belarus, a Lithuanian deputy foreign minister said.
"We got assurances well in advance," Lithuanian official Evaldas Ignatavicius said.
Lithuania would be particularly vulnerable to a curtailment of gas supplies, as it shut down a nuclear reactor this year, making it more dependent on outside sources of energy.
Ignatavicius stated Russia said it would route gas supplies through Latvia, the EUobserver reported Monday.
Russia energy giant Gazprom reportedly has begun shutting down the supply to Belarus over a disputed gas bill of about $200 million.
Belarus Energy Minister Eduard Tovpinets said earlier it would keep supplies routed to Europe, "despite the fact that Gazprom has imposed a 15 percent cut on gas supplies," RIA Novosti reported.
A spokeswoman for Lietuvos dujos, a Lithuanian gas supplier, said early Monday that supplies of Russian gas that flows through Belarus to Europe had not dropped yet. But Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller said the company would gradually cut supplies to Belarus by 85 percent.
Belarus has been paying $150 per 1,000 cubic meters since January, although Gazprom set the price at $169 per 1,000 cubic meters for January through March and $185 for April through June.
Tovpinets said Gazprom owes Belarus $200 million for transit fees, which would offset what it owes the company.