Gazprom told Moldovan officials this month that it would cut the price of natural gas if the country changes its free trade agreement with the EU, according to Financial Times.
Moldova declared a state of emergency in its efforts to ensure adequate deliveries to overcome the gas shortage during the winter period. Gazprom, controlled by the Kremlin, last month cut gas supplies to the country by a third as the long-term contract expired, demanding more than double the conditions in the previous contract for continued gas flow.
Gazprom told Moldovan officials that it would cut the price of natural gas if the country changed its free trade agreement with the EU in this month’s negotiations, the Financial Times reported. Gazprom also asked Moldova to delay the implementation of EU rules that would liberalize natural gas markets and allow for greater competition.
Sources said that the Kremlin’s gas talks are part of a broader political deal with Moldova after President Maia Sandu took office last year and his strongly pro-EU party emerged victorious in July’s elections.
Market analysts note that Gazprom’s position as Moldova’s sole gas supplier is using Moscow to put pressure on Chisinau’s administration, which is committed to exiting Russia’s orbit and approaching the west.
The move came amid a broader-based gas crunch that has driven market prices to record highs.
Russian President Vladimir Putin this month called allegations that the Kremlin is using natural gas as a political weapon against other countries as “absolute nonsense.”
The liberalization of the natural gas market adversely affects Gazprom and Moldovagaz, the company’s subsidiary in Moldova, which owns and operates the gas network in the country and also buys and sells natural gas shipments.