EBRD loans 300 million euros to Moldova to overcome energy disruptions

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Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu speaks during a news conference in Chisinau, Moldova November 1, 2021. REUTERS/Vladislav Culiomza

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CHISINAU, June 23 (Reuters) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on Thursday said it would loan 300 million euros ($316 million) to Moldova to help it withstand energy supply disruptions compounded by Russia's war in Ukraine.

Moldova, sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, obtains nearly all its gas for industry and heating from Russian giant Gazprom PAO (GAZP.MM), under a contract extending to 2026.

Supplies have been subject to difficult, periodic negotiations over prices, which were sent soaring even before the Ukraine invasion, and Moldova's ability to pay its debts.

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The loan to the pro-Western government of President Maia Sandu will be provided in two tranches - 200 million euros to avoid disruptions and a further 100 million euros to build up a strategic reserve in Ukraine or Romania.

"We are working in the summer so we have fewer worries in the winter," Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said in a post on Facebook.

The EBRD said its loan would finance up to 20% of Moldova's planned 2022 gas imports and would be provided to state-owned energy trader JSC Energocom to secure gas on EU hubs.

This would "ensure uninterrupted gas supply in Moldova and safeguard the basic needs and economic livelihoods of 2.7 million Moldovans and refugees from Ukraine," it said.

Since the invasion, a series of explosions has hit Moldova's pro-Russian separatist Transnistria enclave, prompting speculation Russia could send troops across the border.

The Moldovan government introduced a state of emergency shortly after the invasion which banned the transmission of Russian-language news broadcasts.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticised the move, saying Moldova was trying to abolish everything Russian.

"It's sad," he told Belarus state television in an interview released on Thursday.

($1 = 0.9505 euros)

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Reporting by Alexander Tanas, Ronald Popeski and David Ljunggren; editing by Richard Pullin

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