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Military

Russia's Gazprom cuts gas deliveries to Belarus by 60 pct

RIA Novosti

13:42 23/06/2010 MOSCOW, June 23 (RIA Novosti) - The gas row between Russia and Belarus continued on Wednesday as state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom extended supply cuts to Minsk but promised no interruption of supplies to EU consumers.

"From 10:00 a delivery cut to 60% [of planned supply] has been introduced," CEO Alexei Miller said.

Gazprom began gradually reducing supplies to Belarus on Monday with a 15% cut, but threatened to cut supplies by 85% if Minsk did not pay its $200 million gas debt.

Belarus has refused 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 only $150 since January 1.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday he had found money to pay for the gas but argued that Gazprom owed Minsk for transit fees and proposed canceling the debt. He said he had ordered suspension of Russian gas supplies to Europe, potentially affecting 6.25% of consumers.

Gazprom admitted it had a debt but did not specify its amount, only saying Minsk refused to allow it to settle the debt. The two parties have failed to reach any mutual debt offset arrangement.

Russia has agreed with Ukraine, another gas transit nation, to reroute gas via the Ukrainian pipeline system. Miller said on Wednesday there had been no interruption in supplies.

"Gas is transiting via Belarus in full volume and consumers of Russian gas are having no problems with delivery," Miller said.

Gazprom also said that Belarus had paid $260.13 million for May deliveries, the price stipulated in the contract.

Negotiations between Gazprom and Belarus will continue later on Wednesday.



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