Russia expects Belarus to repay its 1.2-billion ruble ($43 million) electricity debt soon to resume normal power supplies to the ex-Soviet republic, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said on Tuesday.
‘We expect payments will be made soon and electricity supplies will resume,” Sechin said.
Russia’s electricity export monopoly Inter RAO said Russia would cut off electricity supplies to Belarus on Tuesday morning unless Belarus repaid the debt.
Russia prolonged the deadline for Belarus to pay off its electricity debt for April and May until Tuesday evening, but no payment has been made.
“As of 8:30 a.m. Moscow time (04:30 GMT) no payment for electricity was made…from June 29, at 00:00 Moscow time (June 28, 20:00 GMT) we will completely cut electricity supplies to Belarus. We are waiting for Belarus to fully repay its debt and make the next payment,” an Inter RAO spokesman said.
Belarus fell behind with electricity payments because of a currency crisis which is hampering transactions with foreign suppliers. Belarus is suffering an acute shortage of international currencies following a free-fall of the Belarusian ruble, caused by excessive money supply after state spending was increased to fund wage increases prior to last year’s presidential election.
Sechin said the planned electricity supply cuts were not politically motivated.
“There is no political context here. Work is being done at the corporate level. This is an issue between the two companies,” he said.