Dispute over outstanding invoices: Gazprom threatens Moldova with a delivery stop

Status: 25.10.2021 5:14 p.m.

Gazprom is threatening Moldova to stop deliveries. The reason is open bills. The Russian company had raised the price of gas after a pro-Western government came to power in Moldova.

By Stephan Laack, ARD Studio Moscow

With the onset of the cold season, Russia threatened the ex-Soviet Republic of Moldova to suspend urgently needed gas deliveries. The Russian energy giant Gazprom justified this with unpaid bills. Moldova’s debts, including fines, are said to have accumulated to over 700 million US dollars.

This sum must be transferred immediately before the contract, which expired in September, can be extended, said Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov. If the volume already delivered is not paid “within the shortest possible time” and there is accordingly no new contract from December 1, Gazprom will stop delivering gas to Moldova.

“It has nothing to do with politics,” said Kupriyanov. Gazprom is a stock corporation and cannot and should not work with losses. “There are limits to our patience. The Moldovan government itself provoked this crisis.” However, at the request of the Moldovan government, Gazprom agreed to continue deliveries in October and November.

Moldova’s head of government warns the population

Last week, the parliament in Chisinau declared a month-long emergency due to the gas crisis. The gas requirement is currently only covered to 67 percent. The negotiations with Gazprom have not brought any result, said Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita: “We have not been able to reach a final agreement and are not even sure whether we will still achieve it.”

The pressure in the gas transport network has fallen to a critical level for the entire network. “I want to warn people now that authorities can use an emergency procedure,” said Gavrilita.

For this purpose, gas deliveries to households could be restricted. However, funds from the state budget may also be made available for alternative gas purchases. Ukraine and Romania had offered to help out at short notice.

Belarus pays cheaper gas tariffs

The fact that the negotiations are not progressing is also due to the widely differing price expectations on both sides. Last year, Moldova – under the Moscow-friendly government of President Igor Dodon – purchased gas at around US $ 149 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Dodon has since been replaced by Maia Sandu, who takes a pro-Western course. Gazprom is now asking a much higher price of $ 790, while Moldova is hoping for $ 200 to $ 300 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas.

Obviously, however, favorable prices are only possible with good political behavior. Belarus with ruler Lukashenko has just negotiated a special tariff of just under 129 US dollars for the coming year.

Observers suspect that the fact that prices for Moldova have now skyrocketed could also be due to the fact that the new Moldovan government took part in the Crimean platform in August. At the summit with 15 European heads of state and government, the annexation of Crimea by Russia was condemned and the return to Ukraine was demanded. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov had condemned the Crimean platform as anti-Russian.

Kremlin spokesman: Purely commercial interests

However, there is no connection: Peskow said that purely commercial interests influenced Gazprom’s pricing. “All positions are easy to understand,” he said. “The position of the Russian side, the position of Gazprom, is extremely clear – it is a commercial position that includes the well-known discounts. Hopefully the conversation will go on one way or the other.”

Negotiations will continue this week. On Wednesday, Gazprom boss Alexej Miller will receive the Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu in St. Petersburg.

Gas dispute between Russia and the Republic of Moldova

Stephan Laack, WDR, 25.10.2021 4:22 p.m.


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