By Alexandre Tanas
CHISINAU (Reuters) – Russia’s state-owned Gazprom is continuing to ship supplies to the indebted Moldovan separatist enclave of Transnistria without receiving payment just because it wants to support the region, Moldova’s foreign minister said on Sunday. Energy.
Moldova’s pro-European government, backed by loans from European institutions, has been buying its gas from other European sources since last December.
Disputes over price and supply cuts imposed by Gazprom have generated tensions between Russia and Moldova, a former Soviet state located between Ukraine and EU member Romania.
“I think that for Russia, the de facto free gas supply to Transnistria is a higher priority, much more important than any trade, financial or other relationship,” Victor Parlicov told the deschide.md news site. .
“You saw what Gazprom did when debts piled up (in Moldova), what measures were taken to reduce volumes. But when it comes to debts (in Transnistria), Gazprom basically provides supplies for free and does not receives no payment. And I see that suits them.”
Transnistria owes Gazprom $9 billion for gas supplies and puts the money collected from consumers in a “gas account” rather than paying. Gazprom claims Moldova owes $709 million in long-term debt, but the government has submitted the sum to an international audit.
Aided by a 300 million euro ($325 million) loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Moldova has sourced its supplies from European sources. It bought a small amount of gas last month from Greece to test the import route.
Pro-Russian Transnistria is a strip of land that broke away from Moldova in the final days of Soviet rule.
A brief war pitted the region against newly independent Moldova in 1992 and 1,500 Russian “peacekeepers” remain there despite attempts to resolve the dispute. Conflicts and violence between the two sides are virtually non-existent.
Moldova has repeatedly denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as Russian missiles landed on Moldovan territory.
Separatist leaders in Transnistria accuse Ukraine of plotting to assassinate them.
(Reporting by Alexander Tanas; Editing by Ron Popeski and Grant McCool)