Gas to Georgia Restored Amid Insults

Itar-TassTbilisi residents refilling small gas containers on Monday as Georgia began receiving gas supplies via Azerbaijan.
TBILISI, Georgia -- Gas started flowing to Georgia on Monday after an explosion shut off supplies from Russia, which Georgian officials accused of deliberately triggering an energy crisis in the Caucasus nation.

Russia says the two explosions Sunday in North Ossetia, which knocked out the main pipeline taking gas to Georgia, were the work of pro-Chechen insurgents and warned Georgian leaders to tone down their rhetoric.

"This morning, partial supplies of gas to Tbilisi resumed," presidential chief of staff Georgy Arveladze said. "It will take several days to resume gas supplies nationwide."

The additional gas for Georgia is coming from neighboring Azerbaijan, which takes much of its gas via a separate pipeline from Russia. Gazprom officials said the gas giant was pumping an extra 2 million to 3 million cubic meters per day to Azerbaijan for Georgia.

"It was a deliberate action against Georgia," Georgian parliament speaker Nino Burdzhanadze told Ekho Moskvy radio, without offering any evidence to support her claim.

On Sunday, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili called it "outrageous blackmail," likening it to the contract dispute earlier this month in which Russia cut off gas to Ukraine.

Moscow rejected the accusations, warning the Georgia's leadership that it risked harming relations with Russia.

"Moscow is pretty much used to the behavior of the Georgian government," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, RIA-Novosti reported.

"What we see is a mixture of parasitic attitude, hypocrisy ... based on hopes of finding Western patrons for their anti-Russian course."