Belarus begins diverting Europe-bound gas: official

22nd June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Belarus began Tuesday diverting Russian gas shipments bound for European markets across its territory in a debt dispute with Moscow, first vice premier Vladimir Semashko said.

"We have given the order to start drawing off gas in order to support Belarus' gas supply system" Semashko told Capital Television.

He said that Russian gas giant Gazprom had been informed in a letter.

Earlier Belarus ordered a shutdown of Russian gas transit deliveries to Europe, even as Moscow insisted the latest energy feud with its ex-Soviet neighbour would not hit supplies to European clients.

Belarus' maverick leader President Alexander Lukashenko ordered the move after Moscow slashed supplies to Minsk in a row over unpaid debts, the fiercest in a string of two-way disputes over energy prices and trade.

© 2010 AFP

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