Sergei Kupriyanov, spokesman for the Russian gas giant Gazprom, confirmed that negotiations resumed early today, after late-night talks broke down without progress.
However, Kupriyanov said an agreement is unlikely unless Belarus sends its chief negotiator, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko, to Moscow. A Belarusian delegation is in the Russian capital, but Minsk has not said if it will send Semashko.
Gazprom is threatening to halt supplies to Belarus on January 1 if Minsk does not agree to pay more than double what it currently pays for gas shipments.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, speaking from Minsk, accused Gazprom of "blackmail" following negotiations on December 29.
Gazprom wants Belarus to pay $105 per 1,000 cubic meters, up from $46 now, as it seeks to bring the prices it charges for gas exports to former Soviet states closer to European levels. By comparison, Gazprom's customers in Europe pay more than $250.
Minsk has agreed to pay $75 per 1,000 cubic meters, and is arguing it that it should not have to pay higher prices because Belarus and Russia are part of a joint economic zone.
SETTING THE RATES: With Gazprom negotiating new contracts, many states will be paying more for Russian natural gas in 2007.
- Belarus, following tense negotiations with Gazprom, will pay $100 per 1,000 cubic meters in -- up from $47 in 2006.
Ukraine, which depends on Russia to supply it with about 77 percent of its gas, will pay $130 per 1,000 cubic meters of a Turkmen-Russian gas mix.
Moldova, which depends on Russia for 100 percent of its gas, will pay $170 per 1,000 cubic meters, with the price rising to European-level market price by 2011.
Georgia has agreed to pay Gazprom $235 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas.
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