There is qualified relief for people in Georgia struggling to keep warm. Russia is expected to restart deliveries of gas to its neighbour after two explosions badly damaged a pipeline a week ago. But state monopoly Gazprom says it will be some time before consumers begin to feel the benefits. Georgia’s energy crisis has been heightened by an electricity blackout in some areas.
The government of President Mikhail Saakashvili has accused Russia of deliberately cutting gas supplies in retaliation for Georgia’s pro-western leanings. He said even though the country was suffering it would never give in to pressure. “Nobody will ever bring Georgia to its knees,” he said. Moscow has denied Tblisi’s claims and blamed the explosions on Islamic militants linked to the conflict in Chechnya.
The guerrillas themselves have denied responsibility. Georgia is now looking to Iran and Azerbaijan to make up the shortfall until Russian supplies return to normal.