Moldova says it will pay debts as Russia’s Gazprom threatens to cut gas supplies

Moldova’s deputy prime minister said the country would pay off an outstanding debt to Russian gas giant Gazprom which had threatened to cut supplies to the country within 48 hours.

Andrei Spinu said Moldova would “fulfil its obligations” and pay off a debt worth €65.8 million. The former Soviet country has been in the throes of a serious energy crisis with its debt exploding in October due to a sudden price hike.

Some western countries have accused Russia of using natural gas as a geopolitical tool.

Gazprom spokesperson Sergei Kuprianov told Russian TV station NTV on Monday that gas deliveries could be interrupted to Moldova within 48 hours.

Moldova and Gazprom signed a contract at the end of October after several weeks of negotiations. Kuprianov said that Gazprom had agreed to sign the contract on condition that Moldova paid its invoices in full and on time.

Moldova, a country of 2.6 million inhabitants located between Romania and Ukraine, traditionally sources gas from Russia via the pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria and Ukraine.

Complications had arisen after Gazprom’s price hike in October when the contract was extended for one month, a decision the Moldovan government deemed “unjustified and unrealistic”.

Threatened with shortages, Chisinau had established a state of emergency which allowed it to buy gas from Poland, a first since its independence in 1991.

Experts argue that Moscow increased its tariffs to punish Chisinau after the 2020 election of pro-European President Maia Sandu.

Moscow had accused Chisinau of late payments and threatened to turn off the tap if a new contract was not signed.

The Kremlin denied it was putting political pressure on the country. The gas shortages came amid the backdrop of soaring gas prices in Europe, which some countries have blamed on Russia.

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