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Russian Gas Supplies Resume to Neighboring Georgia


Russian natural gas has begun to flow through the main pipeline to neighboring Georgia one week after several unexplained explosions damaged the line. The interruption created hardship for people in Georgia and led to new tensions in the relationship between the two countries.

Officials say the delivery of gas has resumed through the main pipeline from southern Russia across the Caucasus Mountains to Georgia and neighboring Armenia.

Both countries faced severe shortages of gas following two mysterious explosions that ruptured the pipeline a week ago.

Igor Tkachenko is an official with the gas transit company in the southern Russian region of North Ossetia.

Tkachenko says emergency crews in the mountainous area labored hard to repair the damage in difficult conditions, and that now gas is again reaching Georgia.

Russian investigators have described the explosions as acts of terrorism, but have not yet determined who carried them out.

Electricity supplies were also interrupted after a third explosion destroyed a pylon in the mountains.

Georgian officials have confirmed that gas is again arriving, but that many people would remain without full power for at least another week.

The gas crisis led to a sharp exchange between Russia and Georgia, whose relations have been tense since President Mikhail Saakashvili was swept to power in the Rose Revolution over two years ago.

Mr. Saakashvili and other top officials have all but accused Russia of deliberately carrying out the sabotage to apply economic pressure on his country.

The Georgian leader has vowed to seek alternate sources for its gas, and last week reached agreement with Iran to begin supplying gas as early as this week.

Georgia and Russia are not the only countries in the region arguing over energy.

Russia's giant gas company Gazprom has repeatedly accused Ukraine of diverting gas intended for customers in western Europe that goes through pipelines that cross its territory.

Gas supplies have been of concern throughout Europe since Gazprom cut off the flow to Ukraine on New Year's Day due to a price dispute.

Although the two countries did reach an agreement, the shortfall in supplies has also led Europe to seek alternate sources of supply.

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