The gas war has taken its first victim: Moldova.The Moldovan government announced State of emergency Due to supply shortages, the Russian gas giant previously Gazprom He responded that if he did not repay the debt in full, he would cut off the key on December 1.
“You must pay on time for the products you receive. There is no policy here. Gazprom is a shareholder company and cannot operate at a loss (…). Any patience is limited. Moldova made it by hand. This crisis.”, said Sergei Kupryanov, Spokesperson of Gazprom.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Gazprom has always been Ideal geopolitical tool In the hands of the Kremlin to put pressure on its neighbors. This is another episode of the conflict between the desire of the former Soviet republics to break their dependence on Russian energy and Moscow’s desire to tightly control its backyard.
This time the chain broke at the weakest link. The dispute between Gazprom and Moldova, Considered to be the poorest country on the African continent, Inseparable from the conflict between Russia and the European Union (EU), natural gas prices soared on the eve of winter.
If in the case of the European Union, the Kremlin takes a more conciliatory position, and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, Willing to increase supply, Gazprom has chosen to be tough with Moldova.
And Moldova is in favor of signing long-term contracts, as Putin and Gazprom have hoped, rather than a temporary agreement paid in cash as proposed by Brussels.
Russia blames Moldova “No payment” “Cumulative debt” 433 million US$709 million-709 million arrears-and, after the previous contract expired in September, he refused to sign a new contract until Chisinau settled his arrears.
Kupriyanov warned: “If you do not pay for the supply in full, and therefore do not sign a new contract before December 1, then Gazprom will suspend gas extraction.”
Moldova met only two-thirds of its natural gas demand in October, declaring a fair state of emergency After the negotiation failed To sign a new contract in Moscow.
Official Russian sources seriously doubt whether an agreement can be reached in the next few weeks, and emphasized that “the risk of a complete cessation of supply is very high.”
Moldova denies debt
However, the Prime Minister of Moldova, Natalia Gavrita, Insists that his government does not recognize Gazprom’s “historical debt” and believes that this issue should not be resolved in the current negotiations.
In response to Gazprom’s assertion that the dispute is not political, Gavrita replied that Chisinau “persisted in continuing negotiations only in the economic field.”
On the Russian side, the negotiations were presided over by the Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry KozakOver the years, this has promoted reconciliation between Putin and the pro-Russian President of Moldova and socialist Igor Dodon, who visited the Kremlin regularly during his term.
A year ago, the current President of Moldova, Three European Maya, Expelled Doton and immediately advocated the withdrawal of Russian troops from the separatist enclaves along the Transnistria.
Moldova does not have many options on the deck, because the gas faucet is in the hands of Russia. To this end, it has decided to speed up negotiations on the purchase of natural gas from Ukraine, Romania and Poland.
Ukraine comes to the rescue
Ukraine faced Russia on the issue of sending natural gas to Europe and did not stand idly by.The National Defense and National Security Council reported that the government will soon study Help Moldova To overcome the energy crisis.
Moldova would have asked Ukraine 15 million cubic meters of natural gas, According to André Gelus, Chairman of the Energy Commission of the Verkhovna Rada (Legislative). The only condition set by Kiev is the return of natural gas at the end of winter.
In addition, the President of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky, Proposed options to solve the European energy crisis. If the EU’s natural gas transportation volume increases, it offers a 50% discount, which, according to the contract with Gazprom, is now 40 billion cubic meters per year.
“Let me be clear. I’m sure if we don’t do it now, The losses in Europe this winter will be huge. Only rapid and coordinated measures can stop the crisis,” he said.
In this regard, Putin has stated that such a route is unprofitable for Gazprom, and the increase in traffic volume may cause the collapse of Ukraine’s old natural gas pipeline.