TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, June 17 (UPI) -- Uzbekistan cut natural gas supplies to Tajikistan over a failure to pay its $17.5 million in debt, executives in Tajikistan said.
Uzbekistan supplies Tajikistan with 98 percent of its natural gas needs. Executives in Tajikistan had complained Tashkent would cut half of its gas supplies as a punitive measure over the outstanding debt, RIA Novosti reports.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov had said in January his country was ready to sell gas exclusively to Russia, "while it is entirely up to Russia what to do with it next."
Karimov had told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev his country would offer Russian gas monopoly Gazprom an initial volume of 565 billion cubic feet per year, "but we are ready to provide more."
Gazprom, along with LUKoil, Russia's private oil and gas company, is active in energy-rich Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan was among the top energy-rich nations that did not sign on to a final declaration on the Nabucco gas pipeline for Europe following a major summit on the project in the Czech Republic earlier this year.