Moldova’s President Maia Sandu purportedly called on the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to provide cheaper gas, citing that the country pays vast sums of money for Russian gas. He also reminded Moscow of Moldova’s intentions to join the European Union.
“I see no connection between gas supplies and our intention to become a candidate country for EU membership,” Sandu said on Thursday, “We have wanted this for a long time, and have been announcing our intention for many years. We have also made commitments to apply for EU membership.”
Sandu made the comments in response to Lavrov’s claim that Moldova was threatening Russia with its intentions to join the EU in order to secure cheaper gas- despite the country often not paying on time.
Sandu said that under Moldova’s current contract with Russian energy giant Gazprom, Moldova pays dearly and on time for the country’s gas consumption.
“Moldova is an independent and sovereign country, and its citizens said that they want to live in a free country, in a state that respects them, where wealth can be built,” she shot back at Lavrov.
On Russian television station NTV, Lavrov warned reporters that the West was turning Moldova into “a second Ukraine.”
“They [the Moldovans] say ‘the Russians must give us gas reductions and postpone payments. It’s begging and extortion to say that if you don’t provide us [cheap gas], we’re going to the EU faster. [Even] if you do, we’re still going to the EU, but slower,” Lavrov said.
“So the EU is working very hard to force Moldova, which is not yet an EU candidate, to open a second front,” he continued.
Moldova signed to extend its contract with Gazprom for five more years on 29 October, 2021. Prices are calculated according to a formula, and are higher than on the previous contract.
Russia has repeatedly threatened to stop the supply of gas to Moldova if the bill is not paid on time every month, and in advance. Moldova says it has met these requirements every month since late last year.
Gas has varied in price since last year, from 350 US dollars to almost 1,000 dollars per thousand cubic meters. Under the previous contract, Moldova paid from 100 dollars to 200 dollars per thousand cubic meters.
At the same time, there remains the possibility that Gazprom could cancel the current contract over a dispute regarding an alleged debt of $709 million that the Russian firm claims is owed by Moldovan gas company Moldovagaz.
Moldovagaz is a subsidiary of Gazprom, in which the Russian government controls a ruling stake of 63 percent. The Moldovan Economy Ministry owns 35 percent.
Moldova says the debt has been exaggerated, and has called for a financial audit of Moldovagaz. Gazprom has continued to block attempts to call an audit.
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