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Moldova has accused Moscow of energy "blackmail" and dismissed allegations by Russian energy giant Gazprom that Ukraine is withholding deliveries intended for its neighbor as "manipulation" meant to justify cutting supplies for Chisinau.
Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said in a Facebook post on November 23 that some gas supplies -- over 200 million cubic meters -- from Russia remain in storage in Ukraine for future use and that Gazprom is falsely using that fact to threaten to cut supplies "in an unfriendly manner we have already been used to."
"To be clear, all the gas delivered to Moldova ends up in our country," Spinu wrote. "The volumes of gas that Gazprom refers to as remaining in Ukraine are our savings and reserves stored in warehouses in Ukraine.... Let it also be clear that these volumes were and will be fully paid for by our country."
Russia has drastically cut gas deliveries to Europe in response to Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, triggering an energy crisis at the onset of the cold season.
Moldova, wedged between Ukraine and EU member Romania, has seen its Russian gas deliveries slashed and its regular electricity imports dry up.
Earlier this week, Gazprom threatened to reduce gas deliveries to Moldova starting next week, alleging that Ukraine -- a key transit route for Russian gas supplies to Europe -- had prevented the delivery of some 52.5 million cubic meters of gas to Chisinau, thus causing an "imbalance" in the gas flow.
Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita told Moldovan television channel Pro TV that Moldova is prepared to counter what she called Russia's "blackmail."
"There are no signals that Russia will stop supplying gas to Moldova in December. But the government is ready for any scenario, as Russia continues to use energy resources as a tool of blackmail," she said.
Pro-Western President Maia Sandu said on November 21 that Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, could face a harsh winter because of an "acute" energy crisis that risked stoking popular discontent.
Ukraine has also rejected Gazprom's allegations, saying that all Moldovan gas has been transferred "in the full amount." It also accused Russia of "manipulating facts" to justify cutting deliveries to Europe.
Ukrainian state energy firm Naftohaz said that by threatening to cut gas deliveries to Moldova, Gazprom is attempting to prevent Chisinau from using Ukraine's gas transport systems and its subterranean storage facilities in order to consolidate Moldova's dependence on Russian gas.
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