Russia cuts off electricity supply to Belarus in the wave of its financial crisis

30/06/2011 00:00 Electricity Market

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Russia's electricity export monopoly Inter RAO cut off electricity supply to Belarus at midnight on Wednesday, following a debt of 1.2-billion ruble ($43 million) accumulated for electricity supplied in March, April and May.

Russia says that the electricity will remain off until Belarus fully pays for electricity it has already purchased and which remains outstanding. Russia extended until Tuesday morning the deadline for Belarus to pay off its electricity debt for April and May, threatening to cut off supplies, but no payment has been performed. The Belarusian electricity debt occurred because of the currency crisis which is blocking transactions with foreign partners. Belarus says it has enough domestic currency, but the main problem is converting it into scarce international currency. The Russian electricity company declared on Thursday that the move is a commercial decision and had no political connotation. Previously, Russia has been accused by Ukraine of using energy supplies as political tool to bring former Soviet republics back under the Kremlin’s influence.

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