Russia’s Gazprom monopoly has given Moldova until August 1 to pay its arrears, and to do so in cash, not in commodities. The arrears are variously estimated at US$300-500 million (depending on what is factored in). Moldova’s Deputy Prime Minister Ion Sturza, departing yesterday for negotiations in Moscow, ruled out repayment any time soon, in cash or otherwise, because the country simply lacks the resources. Should Gazprom “blackmail” Moldova and cut her off, Sturza said, the country would respond by “bringing the transit factor to bear.”
The none-too-cryptic remark implies that Moldova is in a position to offset the cuts by taking advantage of the transit pipeline which carries Russian gas via Moldova to four Balkan countries (Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey). Sturza suggested that the “transit factor” can similarly prevent Gazprom collecting arrears from Ukraine and Belarus, countries which transit large volumes of Russian gas to Central and Western Europe. (Flux, July 16)
KYIV PUTS CASPIAN OIL TRANSIT ROUTE ON THE DRAWING BOARD.