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Gazprom Reported Increasing Gas Supplies For Georgia

(RFE/RL) 23 January 2006 -- Russia's state-run monopoly Gazprom is reportedly increasing gas flows to Azerbaijan in order to get emergency supplies to Georgia via alternative routes.

The step was reported after two explosions in southern Russia on 22 January knocked out pipelines that supply gas to Georgia and Armenia. A third explosion interrupted Russian electricity exports to Georgia.

Georgian authorities warned after the flows were disrupted that the country's gas reserves were nearly exhausted.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili accused Russia of using sabotage to pressure Georgia and trigger an energy crisis as sub-zero temperatures are hitting the country.

"It was an attempt by Russia to force Georgia to surrender ownership of its domestic gas pipeline," Saakashvili said on Georgian television on 22 January.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called Saakashvili's comments "hysteria."

Russian officials said investigators are probing whether anti-Moscow militants carried out the pipeline blasts in Russia's North Ossetia region.

Officials said it was expected to be days before the pipelines were repaired to get gas flowing again.

(Interfax, Reuters, AFP, AP)



Celeste Wallander directs the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and is a CSIS senior fellow. Before joining CSIS, she was senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., and associate professor of government at Harvard University. She is the founder and executive director of the Program on New Approaches to Russian Security. Her recent projects include work on U.S.-Russian security cooperation, the history of Russia and globalization, HIV/AIDS in Russia, and the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election. Among her books are "Swords And Sustenance: The Economics Of Security In Belarus And Ukraine" and "Mortal Friends, Best Enemies: German-Russian Cooperation After The Cold War." She is currently writing "Global Russia: Economics, Politics, And Security."

On November 29, 2005, she spoke with RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service about Russia's energy policies and how Moscow might be seeking to leverage its influence over its neighbors. Listen to the complete interview.
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To read a transcript of the interview,click here.

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