Russia grants Moldova 2-day extension to make gas payments

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – Russian gas giant Gazprom has granted Moldova a two-day extension to settle overdue payments of nearly $ 74 million, withdrawing on Wednesday from a threat to cut gas exports to the small country in Eastern Europe, officials said.

The original deadline for payment, which covers Moldova’s gas consumption costs for October and November, was Monday. Gazprom said the money had not been received and warned it would cut Moldova’s gas supply if it did not arrive on Wednesday.

Authorities in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, this week requested a further extension.

“I have just received Gazprom’s response to my request for an extension of the payment period for current gas consumption,” Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said in a statement. “The deadline has been extended to Friday.”

Spinu added that the government “has taken all necessary measures to repay the debt accumulated for October-November Friday”.

The payment due was part of a renewed five-year deal in late October between Moldova and Russia to extend a long-standing contract that expired in late September, which left the two countries at odds over a price hike.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said in a statement on Wednesday that Moldova “has turned to Gazprom with a request not to cut off the gas supply from today”.

“Exceptionally, Gazprom, showing goodwill and understanding what difficult situation the citizens of Moldova may face, has accepted this request,” said Kupriyanov. “Gazprom expects Moldova to fulfill all its contractual obligations in general and to pay current payments on time. “

Officials in Moldova, Europe’s poorest country of about 3.5 million people, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, said it would pay the outstanding balance of $ 74 million from its state budget.

Until September, when the long-standing gas contract ended, Russia had supplied all of Moldova’s natural gas. But after initial efforts to strike a new deal failed, Moldova turned to Poland to avoid a winter gas shortage and diversify its supplies.

The million cubic meters of gas Moldova received from Poland was the first time the former nation of the Soviet Union turned to a non-Russian gas supplier.

While some observers saw the dispute as a Russian attempt to exert influence over Moldova, after a pro-European Union party won a landslide victory in the July 11 parliamentary elections, the Kremlin denied that the policy was there. play a role.

Stephen Mcgrath, The Associated Press


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