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Brussels, 23 June 2010

Russia-Belarus gas dispute: Commission strongly concerned about gas cuts in Lithuania

Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger is strongly concerned about today's cuts in gas supply to Lithuania, following the Russia-Belarus gas dispute. Lithuanian authorities confirmed that Russian gas supplies via Belarus decreased by around 50 percent on 23 June.

Günther Oettinger, Commissioner responsible for Energy said: "International commitments on gas supply must me respected unconditionally. Gas cuts as some of our Member States are witnessing now are not acceptable. This is an affront against the whole European Union."

This afternoon, Lithuanian authorities have confirmed that gas supplied via the national Belarus gas pipeline system has been cut by around 50 percent. On Monday, the Russian gas company Gazprom decided to cut gas supplies to Belarus claiming an outstanding debt of USD 190 million.

In the past few days, the Commission has repeatedly recalled that contracts have to be fulfilled and the dispute between Russia and Belarus must not have any negative impact on EU Member States.

Yesterday, Commissioner Oettinger talked to Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Belarus First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko. Meetings on expert level have also been held. Today, the Commissioner discussed the situation with Lithuanian Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas.

The Commission is in close contact with national authorities to monitor the situation.

Three countries can be potentially affected by the gas dispute: Lithuania, Poland and Germany. In the case of Poland and Germany, Russian gas could be delivered via Ukraine. This is not possible for Lithuania which depends 100 percent from Russian gas delivered by Belarus. Latvia is expected to be able to deliver gas to Lithuania without any problems for one week.

6.25 percent of gas consumed in the EU is delivered via Belarus and could potentially be affected by the dispute.

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