MOSCOW, June 17 (UPI) -- Russia's Gazprom has threatened that Belarus has until June 21 to clear its gas debts or face supply restrictions.
Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told journalists in Moscow that if Belarus doesn't settle its outstanding $200 million debt by that time, "Gazprom will be forced to exercise its rights on limiting gas supplies to Belarus, according to the contract," The Moscow Times reported Thursday.
Kupriyanov's declaration came in the wake of a meeting evening between Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Aleksei Miller, following which Medvedev said, "If the debt isn't paid off stern measures will have to be taken."
While in 2009 Belarus paid $150 per thousand cubic meters for Gazprom gas, on Jan. 1 contract terms provided for the price to rise to $174 per thousand cubic meters, a price rise that Belarus has contested, continuing to last year's rate rather than the 2010 increased price.
During his meeting with Medvedev, Miller noted that under the terms of the contract Gazprom is entitled to cut natural gas supplies to Belarus proportionately to the country's outstanding debt.