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The Republic of Moldova has turned to a non-Russian natural gas supplier for the first time as the former Soviet republic seeks to avoid a looming gas shortage this winter after failing to renew a long-term supply contract with Moscow

BUCHAREST, Romania – The Republic of Moldova has turned to a non-Russian natural gas supplier for the first time as the former Soviet republic seeks to avoid an impending gas shortage this winter after failing to renew a contract for long-term supply with Moscow.

Moldova on Tuesday received one million cubic meters of gas from Poland in an attempt to diversify its energy supply after years of strong Russian influence over the small nation of 3.5 million people.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu posted online Wednesday that the European Commission had pledged 60 million euros ($ 70 million) to help the country cope with its gas crisis. Sandu thanked the President of the EC, Ursula von de Leyen, for her support.

Russia had supplied all of Moldova’s natural gas until September, when efforts to strike a new deal with Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom failed.

Gazprom had extended the contract for a month at the higher price of $ 790 per cubic meter while Moldovan energy trading company Energocom sought another gas supplier. Moldovan officials continue to negotiate with the Russian gas giant.

Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said on Sunday that Gazprom’s “financial and non-financial conditions” are not in the interests of Moldovan citizens.

The deal with Polish supplier PGNiG came a week after the Moldovan parliament declared a 30-day state of emergency when Gazprom cut its gas supply by about a third and raised prices against a backdrop of dizzying rise in world gas prices.

Moldova’s foreign ministry said on Monday it had to keep gas flow “at an acceptable level” to “ensure the country’s energy security”.

Gazprom said over the weekend that Moldova, Europe’s poorest country, would need to pay off its overdue debts of as much as $ 709 million (€ 610 million) in order to extend its contract. The Russian company also warned it would cut gas supply on December 1 if payment was not received.

“There are no political problems here and there cannot be,” Peskov said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “There is a demand for gas, there is a commercial offer with a rebate offer and the problem of the accumulated debt. This is all purely commercial in nature and there is no politicization here.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyano said in a statement that the Russian gas giant “cannot work to make losses” and that “Moldova is causing a crisis with its own hands”.

Dionis Cenusa, analyst at the Expert Group think tank based in Chisinau, says Moldova has worked in recent years to diversify its gas supply routes, especially with Romania.

“But the company was often politicized or lacked financial resources,” he told The Associated Press. “Russia wants its influence intact in Moldova and the current energy crisis appears to be being used to balance power with the EU.”

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Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

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ABC News

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