Moldova moves closer to breaking dependence on Russian gas, deputy PM says
KYIV, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Moldova has reached a short-term energy deal that would help wean one of Europe's poorest countries off its dependence on Russian natural gas, a senior official said on Saturday.
The former Soviet republic of 2.5 million, which faces soaring inflation amid Russia's war on neighbouring Ukraine, has traditionally been heavily reliant on Russian gas.
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But Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said state gas firm Moldovagaz would buy 100 million cubic metres of gas from domestic supplier Energocom this month. It would be the first time that Moldova has not consumed any of the gas it has bought from Russia, he wrote on his Telegram channel.
"Since last year, we have promised to make reserves and find an alternative to stop being dependent on a single source. I managed to do it," Spinu wrote.
The gas bought from Russian state giant Gazprom is currently being provided to the Kremlin-loyal breakaway region of Transdniestria on the left bank of the Dniester River in exchange for electricity.
Energocom stores gas at facilities in Ukraine and Romania. It was unclear where Energocom was buying the gas.
Moldova has repeatedly condemned Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Bilateral ties are also strained by the presence of Russian peacekeeping troops in Transdniestria. (Reporting by Alexander Tanas; Writing by Dan Peleschuk; Editing by Nick Macfie)