Nov. 28 (UPI) — Russian energy company Gazprom said Monday it was disrupting the flow of natural gas to Moldova, an aspiring member of the European Union.
Gazprom said state energy company Moldovagaz paid late for what it’s received so far in November. As a result, gas flows through arteries in Ukraine would be reduced for Moldova.
“Gazprom reserves the right to reduce or completely suspend gas supplies in case of failure to make payments for them,” the company said in a statement posted on its Twitter account.
Ukraine hosts a dense network of Soviet-era pipelines that carry Russian supplies to the European Union. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that, before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine in February, the EU relied on Russia for 40% of its natural gas supplies.
That’s been reduced, however, thanks in part to a diversification effort. Nevertheless, Russia’s position on gas supplies for Moldova, which petitioned to join the EU earlier this year, suggest some of the geopolitical risks to the regional energy sector remain.
Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the EU, in early November unveiled a $250 million aid package for Moldova aimed at shoring up the country’s energy reserves.
Moldova, which like Ukraine is a former Soviet republic, received $200 million in grants and loans to help break its dependence on Russia for its natural gas.
Another $50 million in budgetary support has been set aside for Moldova’s poorest citizens, while von der Leyen also vowed to “help mobilize other international donors.”
Despite its Western pivot, elements inside Moldova are still aligned with the Kremlin. The U.S. Treasury Department in October sanctioned two Moldovan oligarchs along with several Russian nationals for their role in attempts to interfere in Moldova’s democratic elections.