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Russia Cuts Off Gas To Belarus

Moscow, 18 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Russia cut off gas supplies to Belarus today.

Officials of Russia's Trans Nafta company told reporters the gas supply was stopped this morning after Belarus reached the negotiated limits.

Two other Russian energy companies -- Gazprom and ITERA -- cut their supplies earlier as their contracts with Belarus had expired.

The cuts came after Russia and Belarus failed to reach an agreement on price terms. Russian companies want to raise the rates from earlier below-market levels.

Gazprom is also seeking to buy Belarus's pipeline operator, Beltransgaz, which is up for privatization. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has criticized Gazprom's offer of $1 billion, saying it is far too low.