Russian gas giant Gazprom has threatened to cut supplies to Moldova within 48 hours, increasing pressure on the country in the middle of a natural gas crisis.
“The deadline for payment is November 22. Today Gazprom, in accordance with the terms of the contract, informed the Moldovan side that gas deliveries to Moldova will be interrupted within 48 hours,” said company spokesperson Sergei Kuprianov on Russian TV station NTV.
“Gazprom is deeply disappointed that Moldova has not fulfilled its contractual commitments,” he added.
Moldova and Gazprom signed a contract at the end of October after several weeks of negotiations.
Gazprom spokesman Kuprianov said on Monday that Gazprom had agreed to sign the contract on condition that Moldova paid its invoices in full and on time.
Moldova, a country of 2.6 million inhabitants located between Romania and Ukraine, traditionally sources gas from Russia via the pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria and Ukraine.
But complications had arisen after Gazprom’s price hike in October when the contract was extended for one month, a decision the Moldovan government deemed “unjustified and unrealistic”.
Threatened with shortages, Chisinau had established a state of emergency which allowed it to buy gas from Poland, a first since its independence in 1991.
Experts argue that Moscow increased its tariffs to punish Chisinau after the 2020 election of pro-European President Maia Sandu.
Moscow had accused Chisinau of late payments and threatened to turn off the tap if a new contract was not signed.
The Kremlin denied it was putting political pressure on the country. The gas shortages came amid the backdrop of soaring gas prices in Europe, which some countries have blamed on Russia.