Georgia and Russia in gas dispute

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Georgia and Russia in gas dispute

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Georgia has accused Russia of purposely cutting off its gas supply after a main pipeline between the countries was seriously damaged in an attack. Russian officials in turn claim anti-Moscow insurgents are to blame.

Georgia and its neighbour Armenia rely heavily on gas supplies from Russia. The blasts ripped into two sections of the pipeline in Russia’s southern region of North Ossetia. Within hours, the high-voltage electricity line linking Georgia to Russia was also severed. Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili, who has irritated the Kremlin by pushing his country closer to the West, says Georgia is suffering the same fate as Ukraine whose supply of Russian gas was cut off earlier this month. “Yesterday it was Ukraine, today it is Georgia, tomorrow it might get anywhere where Russia sells its gas and electricity, basically what happened is totally outrageous and we are dealing with an outrageous blackmail on the part of people who do not want to behave in a civilised and human way.” The incident could not have come at a worse time for Georgia, which along with Armenia is facing a severe energy crisis as unusually cold weather grips the region. The damage could take two to three days to repair. It is feared Georgia could run out of energy before that, and people are stocking up on all the kerosene, firewood and gas canisters they can find. School children were told to stay at home on Monday.