Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgia Pledges to Diversify After Crisis

BERLIN -- Georgia will take steps to reduce its dependence on Russian gas and import more from Central Asia after a crisis caused by pipeline blasts it blames on Russian sabotage, President Mikheil Saakashvili said Thursday.

He said the country was currently meeting half its gas needs from Russia, whose supply resumed Sunday after a weeklong outage, and half under a two-week emergency deal with Iran.

"Now, we are getting 50-50 from Iran and from Russia, but the Iranian arrangement is short-term," Saakashvili told a news conference in Berlin.

He said Georgia was looking to diversify its supplies and import more gas longer-term from Central Asia.

"One of the lessons we learn from this crisis is that we need to diversify. We need to find lots of alternatives," he said.

Saakashvili repeated allegations -- rejected by Moscow as "hysterical" -- that the three pipeline blasts earlier this month were acts of sabotage to exert pressure on Georgia, and that Russia had been deliberately slow to repair the damage.

"The very moment Iranian gas entered Georgian territory, Russian gas started to flow. Is it a coincidence?" he asked.

"The conclusion I make from all this is you are dealing with extremely unreliable, insecure and ... politically motivated suppliers."

Georgia is paying more than twice as much for Iranian natural gas deliveries as for Russian, presumably using U.S. aid money for the transaction, Vremya Novostei reported, quoting Iranian oil official's interview in Iranian media, The Associated Press reported Thursday.