Gazprom to cut Belarus supplies

Russian energy supplier Gazprom has announced that it is to cut the amount if gas it supplies to neighbouring Belarus by almost half because of an unpaid gas bill.

The Russian state-owned monopoly says that Belarus owes it £247 million, having failed to pay in full for previous shipments. The threat is a repeat of recent supply disputes with former Soviet republics in 2005 and 2006.

Around 20 per cent of Gazprom's European supplies pass through Belarus - but the company says that these supplies should not be affected.

"Gazprom will take all possible measures for the transportation of Russian gas through the territory of Belarus in full accordance with current obligations before European customers," the supplier said in a statement.

Russia has often been accused of using its gas supplies to bully its neighbouring countries, particularly after it implementing price increases in Belarus, Ukraine and Georgia last year.

Belarus failed to pay the £247 million it owes by a July 23rd deadline - after seeing prices increase from $47 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas to $100 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas last year.

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