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Dispute with Gazprom adds to Russia's tension with Belarus

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-17

Russia energy giant Gazprom has asked Belarus to pay 166 million euros for gas delivered between January and April. The dispute comes at a moment when diplomatic relations between Moscow and Minsk are tense.

AFP - Russian energy monopoly Gazprom is seeking 230 million dollars (166 million euros) in payments from the Belarus gas company Beltransgaz, a Gazprom spokesman said Wednesday.
  
Twenty percent of Russian gas destined for Europe passes through Belarus.
  
"Gazprom has sent a letter to Beltransgaz claiming payment for gas delivered between January and April," spokesman Denis Ignatiev said.
  
The Interfax news agency, citing a Russian diplomat in Belarus, said the bill had to be paid by June 23, a date that was not confirmed by the spokesman.
  
Relations between Russia and Belarus have been under strain in recent weeks in response to a trade dispute and Belarus' desire to move closer to western Europe.
  
The trade dispute, sparked by a Russian decision to ban certain dairy exports from Belarus, has now been resolved, according to Russian officials, and exports should resume on Thursday.
  
Russia has frequently been accused of using its position as a big energy exporter to pressure its neighbors.
  
The worst crisis erupted in January when a row over prices with Ukraine caused a two-week interruption in Russian gas shipments to Europe in the midst of a bitter cold snap.

Date created : 2009-06-17

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