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Gazprom: Minsk gas talks off the agenda

Gazprom: Minsk gas talks off the agenda
Russian Prime Minister Putin (L) and Gazprom's Chief Executive Alexei Miller arrive at the gas exporting countries forum in Moscow December 23, 2008. Energy ministers of 12 gas exporting countries gather in Russian capital to strengthen cooperation amid consuming countries' concerns that they might turn into an OPEC-style cartel. (UPI Photo/Anatoli Zhdanov) | License Photo

MOSCOW, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Russian natural gas contracts with Belarus are "not a topic for discussion," the top official at Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom said.

Minsk is lobbying for a better gas deal with Russia after Kiev negotiated a discount for natural gas in exchange for an extended lease for the Russian Black Sea fleet in Crimea.

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Alexei Miller, the top executive at Gazprom, said Minsk was paying for gas under terms spelled out last year.

"Now, this issue is not a topic for discussion," he was quoted in Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during the weekend blasted his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko for politicizing energy issues ahead of presidential elections in December.

Alexander Surikov, the Russian envoy to Belarus, said, however, there wouldn't be a gas war with Russia this year.

The government in Belarus was in talks with Poland and Lithuania to possibly get liquefied natural gas from non-Russian sources in a bid to reduce the dependency on Moscow for gas.

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