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Moldova says it will pay debts as Russia's Gazprom threatens to cut gas supplies

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By AFP, AP
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and his Moldovan counterpart Nicu Popescu shake hands 17 November 2021.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and his Moldovan counterpart Nicu Popescu shake hands 17 November 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool

Moldova's deputy prime minister said the country would pay off an outstanding debt to Russian gas giant Gazprom.

Gazprom had threatened to cut supplies to the country within 48 hours but on Wednesday granted a two-day extension.

Andrei Spinu earlier said Moldova would "fulfil its obligations" and pay off a debt worth €65.8 million, amid a serious energy crisis and sudden price hikes.

Some western countries have accused Russia of using natural gas as a geopolitical tool.

The original deadline for Moldova's gas consumption costs for October and November was Monday, but this has now been extended to Friday.

"As an exception, Gazprom, showing goodwill and understanding what a difficult situation the citizens of Moldova may face, agreed to this request, said Gazprom spokesperson Sergey Kupriyanov.

Spinu added that the Moldovan government "has taken all the necessary measures" to pay off the accumulated debt.

Moldova and Gazprom signed a contract at the end of October after several weeks of negotiations and traditionally sources gas from Russia via the pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria and neighbouring Ukraine.

Complications had arisen after Gazprom's price hike in October when the contract was extended for one month, a decision the Moldovan government deemed "unjustified and unrealistic".

Threatened with shortages, Chisinau had established a state of emergency which allowed it to buy gas from Poland, a first since its independence in 1991.

Experts argue that Moscow increased its tariffs to punish Chisinau after the 2020 election of pro-European President Maia Sandu.

Moscow had accused Chisinau of late payments and threatened to turn off the tap if a new contract was not signed.

The Kremlin denied it was putting political pressure on the country.