Gazprom: Belarus pays gas debt in full

Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom said Wednesday it had received all of an outstanding US$460 million (EUR 334 million) gas bill from Belarus.

The announcement allayed fears that the latest energy dispute between Russia and its former Soviet neighbors could lead to supply interruptions for Europe.

"Gazprom confirms that Beltransgaz has made the last payment for gas delivered in the first half of the year," the company's press department said in a statement, referring to the Belarusian pipeline operator.

Gazprom, the world's biggest natural gas producer, threatened last week to cut nearly half of the Belarus gas supply if the bill was not paid.

That fueled fears that Belarus could siphon gas from pipelines carrying one-fifth of Russia's gas exports to Europe, and highlighted once again the vulnerability of the web of pipes that Russia uses for export to Western markets.