Ukraine sends gas to Moldova, driven to brink by Russian price hikes

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KYIV/CHISINAU, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Ukraine sold its first commercial shipment of gas to neighbouring Moldova on Friday, joining a group of suppliers offering to help the neighbouring country which says it has been driven to the brink by Moscow's decision to triple its price.

Ukraine's state energy firm Naftogaz initially said on Friday it had won a tender to sell 500,000 cubic meters of gas to Moldovan state company Energocom. Later on Friday it said it had secured rights for an additional 12.125 million cubic metres of supplies.

Ukraine's company won the tenders just before Moldova agreed a new five-year deal with Russia. read more

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Chisinau had to buy gas from other sources because its previous contract with Russia's Gazprom expired in September and Russia had threatened to cut off supplies in a dispute over future prices and unpaid bills, in what the European Union and allies of Moldova's pro-Western government have called political blackmail.

Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, said this week that Russia was demanding $790 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas, raised from around $250 under a contract that expired in September, and that it cannot afford to pay. Industries have already been forced to curb production to conserve gas for households.

Allies of pro-Western President Maia Sandu, who defeated a Moscow-backed incumbent in an election last November, call the price hike punishment for Moldovan voters rejecting Russia's preferred candidate. Moscow says it is purely commercial, reflecting global markets.

Late on Friday, Gazprom and the Moldovan government said that they secured a five-year contract starting from Nov. 1, 2021. The Moldovan infrastructure ministry said in a statement on Facebook that both sides planned to audit the debt and negotiate a payment schedule. The price formula for the new contract was proposed by the Moldovan side, the ministry said, but it did not disclose details.

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Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets in Kyiv and Alexander Tanas in Chisinau; Editing by Peter Graff and Daniel Wallis

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